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Metro's LA Transit Wishlist Has Something For Everyone

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Metro outlines the projects it would fund with a new ballot measure tax increase, and they span the region

It's shaping up to be a busy year for Los Angeles at the ballot box this year. Angelenos are already poised to vote on the future of city planning in LA (in two competing measures), and now it looks like they may be deciding on the future of mass transit as well. Metro is seeking to get a measure on the ballot that, if passed, would fund their next 40 years worth of transit projects.

Metro's new ballot measure is similar to 2008's Measure R, which generated funds for the transit agency through an increase in sales tax. Revenue from that ballot measure has been used primarily to extend the Gold Line to Azuza, as well as the upcoming Expo Line Phase 2 expansion to Santa Monica.

The new ballot measure would both extend the Measure R sales tax past it's 2039 expiration and introduce a new half-cent sales tax increase in LA County lasting at least four decades. In the process, Metro expects to generate $120 billion, one third of which will go to creating five new transit lines and the extension of six existing transit lines.

Metro's board of directors will decide in June if they want to pursue the ballot measure in November. Getting voter attention amidst an already crowded ballot could be difficult, and the ballot measure requires a two-thirds majority to pass (an insane restriction on all new California taxes, and one that tanked the last version of this measure). To peak voter interest, Metro has focused on several ambitious plans that will transform public transportation throughout all of LA County, and they're certainly very attention-getting.

The LA Times has obtained a list of projects Metro is expected to include in the measure—Metro's wishlist of projects they'd like to fund with a sales tax increase is a cornucopia of transit goodies that spans the region. As a rep for the agency says, "What we’ve been saying is, everyone is going to get something, and no one is going to get everything."

Tunneling the Sepulveda Pass

This is the big one. Metro wants to connect the Westside with the San Fernando Valley by tunneling underneath the Sepulveda Pass. This massive north/south connection could be used to link the Orange Line in the Valley to the Purple Line or Expo Line to the south. Estimated costs for the tunnel project hover around $7 billion to $9.5 billion.

The Valley Might Get Some Rail

The San Fernando Valley stands to gain several transit projects as part of the Metro ballot measure. One would connect the Orange Line with the Metrolink station in Sylmar by way of Van Nuys Boulevard—that project would be either light rail or bus.

The Orange Line busway will get new bridges and signal upgrades to minimize the time buses spend idling, and, speaking of the Orange Line, some of the ballot measure funding could be used to convert the popular bus route to a light rail system. The conversion would cost between $1.2 billion and $1.7 billion, so additional funding would have to be secured to go ahead with that project.

LAX Train Station Gets Funded

Construction on Metro's long-awaited LAX connection is already planned to begin in 2017, but the transit agency still needs some serious funding for the train station itself. $200 million is needed to build the state-of-the-art Crenshaw Line train station that would act as the LAX Metro hub. For that hefty pricetag, Metro expects the station to be an LAX gamechanger, cutting traffic at the airport by 40 percent.

Train riders will have easy access to airport terminals and rental car facilities through a system of people movers. With the ballot measure funding, Metro would further integrate the station and airport by installing flight check-in counters, a currency exchange, and flight information boards.

A Train Line for West Hollywood

For years, WeHo has been clamoring for a Crenshaw Line extension to pass through its neighborhood, and they just might get it with this ballot measure. Metro would build a six-mile north/south connection from the Crenshaw Line that would link to the Purple Line on Wilshire before traveling up to the Red Line station at Hollywood and Highland.

A Train for Vermont Avenue

To alleviate bus traffic on one of its most congested routes, Metro wants to put a train line under Vermont Avenue. It would run about three miles and connect the Purple Line at Wilshire with the Expo Line to the south.

The Purple Line Extension Gets a Speed Boost

Mayor Eric Garcetti is keen on getting the expanded Purple Line up and running by 2024 in case LA hosts the summer Olympics that year. Metro has already tried to get some federal money to speed up the extension, but if that doesn't come through, it would get the money from the ballot initiative.

Green Line Extension into Torrance

The Green Line would push a little further to the south, traveling along the 405 to Torrance. The extension would add 8.7 miles of track to the Green Line, stopping near Crenshaw Boulevard.

Metro may also put some funding into closing the 2.8-mile gap between the Metro Green Line station and the Metrolink station in Norwalk.

More Metro Rapid Bus Routes

Bus routes along Lincoln Boulevard in Venice and Santa Monica, as well as the North Hollywood to Pasadena route would become Bus Rapid Transit Projects. No word yet on whether that means dedicate busways (like the Orange Line), temporary rush hour "bus only" lanes (like on Wilshire Boulevard), or some other iteration.

More Gold Line Extensions

The northbound Gold Line would get an extension all the way to Montclair, stopping in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont along the way. Southbound Gold Line trains would get an extension too, but a proposed route has not been confirmed yet. Two options exist at the moment, one that goes along the 60 Freeway to El Monte and the other that travels along Washington Boulevard to Whittier.

A Downtown LA/Artesia Connection

Either a train or bus would connect Union Station to Artesia and several other communities in southeastern LA County.