City Prepares List for Metro Call for Projects

To get an idea of where a city’s priorities are, one can look at what kinds of projects for which they seek funding.  If that person were to look at the Metro Call for Project application lists prepared by LADOT in 2009 and the one the City Council Transportation Committee will hear on Wednesday, they might believe that the LADOT has made real strides in sustainability in the last two years.

Screen shot 2011-01-09 at 9.04.57 PMBut they’d also conclude that the agency still has a long way to go.  The list of projects that are road widenings is down from somewhere in the 30’s in 2009 to somewhere in the 20’s this year.  It’s hard for me to give an exact number without knowing all of the projects, so there’s some guesswork involved, but it’s fare to say that the number of widening projects is much lower.

This week, Streetsblog will take an in-depth look at what LADOT is proposing for each of the eight funding categories in the call and compare them to what they proposed two years ago.  The eight categories are: Regional Surface Transportation Improvements, Goods Movement Improvements, Signal Synchronization and Bus Speed Improvements, Bikeway Improvements, Pedestrian Improvements, Transit Capital, and Transportation Enhancement Improvements.

It’s true that the amount of funds Metro has for the call are much reduced from the 2009 call (from $337 million to somewhere around$100 million, Metro hasn’t given the exact number yet), but that hasn’t stopped LADOT from submitting an ambitious list of bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects which far outstrips the 2009 call.  Applications are due on January 18.

For example, in 2009 the requests that didn’t have to do with increasing car capacity focused on streetscape improvements, fixing bus stops and a couple of projects that would have spent money on bike paths.    There’s still plenty of those kinds of projects, and there’s nothing wrong with Streetscaping and better bus shelters, but there’s also discussion of funding the “Bicycle Friendly Streets” Program (aka, Bike Boulevard Light) and a city-wide bike corral program.  Of course, since transportation planning is still ruled by politics, the funding request promises that there will be two corrals in each Council District should Metro staff embrace the city’s proposal.

There’s always been an odd conflict in the Call for Projects.  The inclusion of language about how a major goal is to reduce sprawl development and Vehicle Miles Traveled on one page of the application, and a requirement that at least 20% of all funding will go to vehicle capacity enhancement.  Metro claims that this year’s allocation percentages will be skewed towards actual vehicle reduction, but so far, just like the total dollar value of the call, those percentages haven’t been released.

The conflict between these two values, increasing car capacity v decreasing vehicle miles traveled, is one of the main issues we’ll be looking at when discussing LADOT’s applications both then and now.

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