Metro Board Meets Monday to Vote on Measure R Amendment Allowing Highway/Transit Funding Swap
The Metro Board of Directors will meet in special session on Monday to debate a motion put forward by Board Member and Duarte City Councilman John Fasana. The motion would allow the Board of Directors to move Measure R funds between projects within a region and makes further funding of the Gold Line Foothill Extension a possibility.
Responding to concerns by politicians in the San Gabriel Valley that continue to argue that Measure R funding is “only for projects on the Westside,” Fasana proposed a motion that would allow funds to be moved from highway projects to transit projects, and vice versa, within a funding region. This motion will allow funds generated for highway projects in the San Gabriel Valley to be split between the Alameda Corridor East Grade Separation Project and the Gold Line Foothill Extension if two-thirds of the Metro Board of Directors approves the change. A full list of the Metro Measure R project list and current funding plan is available here.
The Fasana Amendment is widely expected to pass and was key to earning the endorsement of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments for the plan to extend the Measure R transit tax until 2069. The tax is currently scheduled to expire in 2039, but extending it will allow Metro to bond against future earnings and build the twelve transit lines funded by Measure R in a much shorter timeline.
Fasana has already outlined a plan to transfer $623 million budgeted for highway projects to the Gold Line Foothill Extension. This new funding would provide over three-quarters of the funding the Foothill Extension needs to complete construction all the way to Claremont. The plan has the overwhelming support of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. Another $200 million will go to grade separation projects along the Alameda Corridor.
Of course, the amendment could have unintended consequences in the long-term. It “will allow funds, by a two-thirds Board vote, to be transferred between the Transit Capital and Highway Capital Subfunds within the same sub-region without the specific timing restrictions originally imposed by Measure R.” This means that needed transit projects in a region could end up going to a highway project. There are probably few people upset to see these highway funds moved to light rail and grade separation, but would people feel the same if the Gold Line Eastside Extension Phase II is sacrificed to shovel more money at the I-710 Big Dig?