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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Will Voters Approve More Rail Funds?

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is once again going back to the ballot box to get more money to build out the county’s mass transit system. Its staff is in the process of developing a ballot measure for 2016 to either hike up the county sales tax to raise more than $100 billion or extend Measure R’s half-cent increase beyond 2039, when it will end unless further action is taken. However, it’s not altogether clear if the measure will pass, or how much the Valley would receive. An initiative to extend Measure R in November 2012 failed to win voter support by a slim margin. The original Measure R was spearheaded by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who made public transportation a cornerstone of his administration. He would later spend significant political capital in 2012 to get Congress to put up federal dollars to pay for such projects as the Gold Line extension and the Exposition Line with the city to repay the loan with the Measure R sales tax increase monies. The Valley’s share of that federal money added up to a small percentage of the total and would not cover the total cost of any of the projects on VICA’s list. This time around, Valley demand could be huge. The Valley portion of the Sepulveda corridor project alone would cost between $5.2 billion and $6.7 billion to tunnel through the Santa Monica Mountains and build underground stations, according to a preliminary cost report by Metro. The East Valley corridor already has been allocated $170 million from Measure R, but that would still only cover a fraction of the cost, which could top $2 billion. An additional $182 million, originally slated for the Orange Line extension until funding was found elsewhere, might be available for the project. Valley rail advocates also will have to deal with supporters of bus transit, especially the Transit Coalition. Bart Reed, executive director of the San Fernando organization, said that rail improvement projects are already underway in the Valley. He noted Metrolink has an $82 million double-tracking project along a 6.4-mile span of its Ventura County line between the Van Nuys and Chatsworth stations. That will improve efficiency of the commuter and freight trains on the line since a single track can cause delays when trains have equipment problems or accidents. He would like to see Valley on Track try to get some funding to improve bus service on Nordhoff Street, Saticoy Street, Woodman Avenue and other routes, not just for rail. “Any request from the Valley needs to have money firewalled for more frequent service, and evening and weekend service,” Reed said. “That should be part of (VICA’s) package. People are ignoring the infrastructure we already have.” – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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