Metro's board had a huge day yesterday: finalizing a $2-billion construction contract for the Crenshaw light rail line (the last hurdle before construction can start next year), saying goodbye to transit proponent/outgoing board member/mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and passing a plan to accelerate various transit projects that are about to start work. Voting 9-3, the Board approved the acceleration plan, which The Source is quick to point out won't guarantee shorter timelines for projects like the Purple Line extension to Westwood and the Green Line extension deeper into the South Bay. "[The plan] is reliant on Congressional approval of the America Fast Forward program that both Villaraigosa and Metro have advocated for. America Fast Forward would provide Metro and other transit agencies access to hundreds of millions of dollars in federally-backed loans and interest-free bonds." Since our Congress is dysfunctional, we may be waiting to exhale on AFF; aware of this, the acceleration plan included a provision requesting a ballot initiative plan "for the November 2014 or November 2016 election that, if approved by the voters of Los Angeles County, would enable acceleration of all Measure R highway and transit projects."
Even in the best of worlds, getting a tax increase passed in LA County is difficult, as it requires two-thirds approval, or 66.67 percent of the vote. Measure R squeaked past that bar in 2008, but Measure J, a proposed extension of R, just failed to reach it (while plans were in place to lower the voter threshold to 55 percent, those now seem dead in the water).
If there were to be another vote on a tax extension related to transit and freeway projects, there would be no shortage of people cheering for its failure. First, there's the Beverly Hills NIMBYs who view the Purple Line subway as an approaching rocket from hell, the South LA groups that are demanding the Crenshaw Line be undergrounded in Park Mesa Heights, and, now, San Gabriel Valley groups and politicians that are furious Metro is not funding a Gold Line extension to Claremont, which they claim is a broken promise.
· Metro Board approves strategy to accelerate second- and third-decade Measure R projects [The Source]