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Effort to Speed Up LA's Transit, Freeway Projects Narrowly Fails

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The county ballot initiative known as Measure J, which would've extended the Measure R transit and freeway tax for at least 30 years, failed to get the necessary two-thirds approval for a win, receiving a yes from 64.72 percent of the electorate, The Source reports. If it had passed, Metro planned to sell bonds against the anticipated tax monies and open projects like the Purple Line subway extension and a rail link to LAX much earlier than anticipated. Like any tax increase in California, Measure J needed a supermajority to pass--never easy--but unlike 2008's Measure R, its sequel caught the ire of groups around the county. People from Beverly Hills, furious over the Purple Line going under their high school, campaigned against it, as did South LA residents and activists like Damien Goodmon, who are upset the Crenshaw Line will be built partially at street-level and that a station in Leimert Park Village remains optional. Meanwhile, some in the San Gabriel Valley were upset that Measure J wouldn't fund a Gold Line extension into Claremont (the line is currently being built out to Azusa), while others near Pasadena feared the money would enable an extension of the 710 Freeway.

The pre-Measure J timeline for Measure R projects is now our reality. One positive note is that with a Democratic president, the feds may be amenable to showing us a little love (with money) for some of these projects. Mayor Villaraigosa's plan to use low-interest federal loans to pay for transit projects was also included in the last transportation bill.

But the pace of these projects does remain frustrating. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Business Journal (sub. req.), David C. Murphy of Angelenos Against Gridlock, lamented how long infrastructure takes to build in southern California: "We need to speed up planning and project review; increase manpower for construction; and address delays caused by utility companies, other agencies, and lawsuit-abusing third parties." Murphy's words ring true for two huge LA transportation projects--the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project and the Expo Line light rail to Santa Monica--which are both dodging a million bullets to stay on time.
· Measure J unofficial results [The Source]