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Saturday, Mar 2, 2024

Valley Still Overlooked With Transit Planning

This is the Valley Industry & Commerce Association’s monthly column for the Business Journal. There is something important missing from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) that is set to be reviewed July 23 the Valley. Three crucial Valley-based projects are not receiving proper consideration or funding in the currently-proposed LRTP. These projects were promised higher priority and adequate funds in the past. They have been deemed as beneficial to the entire region and address problems for some of the most congested stretches of roadway in the nation. The plan includes more than $200 billion in funds and the Valley is getting short-changed once again. First, the Sepulveda Pass fixed-transit project would help ease gridlock through one of the slowest-moving sections of U.S. freeway, the I-405 between the 101 and 10 freeways. The 405/101 and 405/10 interchanges rank first and fifth, respectively, on the list of America’s worst highway bottlenecks. An above or underground rail system would connect the Westside and the Valley and help ease this congestion, but the project’s funding is being diverted to the “subway to the sea” project instead. Based on $1 billion guaranteed under Measure R, the rail project was expected to be completed sometime between 2031 and 2033. Now, Metro officials are pushing back the completion date of the Sepulveda Pass rail project to 2039. Second, the Redline extension to Bob Hope Airport has been a key project for VICA and consistently on our list of priority transit projects for the region. We were not alone in this opinion. When considering all projects for the LRTP, Metro’s rating scale ranked the Redline extension to the airport as the fourth most-needed project and second in anticipated performance. The logical deduction would be that a project this important would be pushed to the top of the funding list, but there are no funds designated for the Redline extension. Even as recent data shows that the Redline enjoys a larger ridership than the Blue, Gold and Green lines combined, it sits in the second tier of unfunded projects. Lastly, the North/South busway corridor project has the backing of VICA, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Councilmember Richard Alarc & #243;n and former Metro CEO Roger Snoble. This kind of backing will usually get a project the funding needed to, in this case, improve the traffic flow on some of the Valley’s busiest streets. No such luck for this project that would have prioritized major Valley surface streets, including Van Nuys, Lankershim, Reseda and Sepulveda boulevards. The LRTP funds that should have helped keep these frequently-traveled streets humming will instead be spent on beautification. Each year Valley businesses lose thousands of hours of productivity because employees and executives are stuck in some of the country’s worst traffic. This lost productivity translates directly to the company’s bottom-line and business cannot afford to lose this precious time and money. Do you think the Valley is getting short-changed on transportation projects? How would improved transportation help your business? Email your responses or thoughts about the column to angela@vica.com .

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