Metro announced last week big changes to its proposal for a November ballot measure that would ask voters to approve a half-cent sales tax hike to fund major public transportation projects. The biggest change is that the tax wouldn't expire, unless voters decided to end it. (This is called the "no sunset" plan).
The revenue would allow the agency to improve and accelerate plans for nearly 10 projects, including:
- Widening I-5 with the addition of two lanes, including one for carpoolers, between the 605 and 710 freeways would start five years earlier in 2019 and finish in 2023.
- Construction of a Green Line extension to Torrance would begin five years sooner in 2026 and wrap up in 2030.
- Extending the Crenshaw Line light rail through West Hollywood to the Hollywood and Highland Red Line station gets an eight-year acceleration. The start date would be 2041, with work scheduled to finish in 2047. Metro says the route is still to be determined.
- "Road improvements" in the Malibu/Las Virgenes area would be fast-tracked by a whopping 25 years, beginning in 2018, with a completion date set for 2032. No details yet on what the improvements would entail.
- Signal upgrades and new bridges for the Orange Line busway--which operates on a path separate from cars--would be accelerated by five years. The $286 million in improvements would begin in 2019 and be completed in 2025.
- Two phases of a light rail connection between Artesia and Downtown Los Angeles would be completed sooner. The first phase, which would link Artesia with the Green Line, would be accelerated by one year, beginning in 2022 and reaching completion in 2028. The second phase, which would link the Green Line to Union Station, would be accelerated by six years, beginning in 2032 and wrapping up in 2041.
- Metro’s plan to close the 2.8 mile gap between the Green Line station in Norwalk to the city’s Metrolink station has been given a five year acceleration. Construction of a light rail system linking the two stations would begin in 2046 and see completion in 2052.
- A bus rapid transit corridor on Lincoln Boulevard would be accelerated by seven years. The corridor would stretch nearly nine miles from the Airport Metro Connector station, which is going up at Aviation Boulevard and 96th Street near LAX, to the 4th and Colorado Expo Line station in Santa Monica would begin construction in 2043 and see completion in 2047.
Metro also plans to use the additional revenue from a sales tax extension to upgrade existing projects, including:
- Conversion of three of its planned bus rapid transit lines into rail lines, if rider demand is high. The Vermont Corridor rapid bus line would be converted to an underground subway, while the Lincoln Boulevard and North Hollywood to Pasadena rapid transit bus lines would both be converted to light rail.
- Extension of the southbound Gold Line in two directions, one traveling to El Monte and the other to Whittier.
- Linking the LA County segment of the High Desert Corridor project that links SR-14 in Los Angeles County to SR-18 in San Bernardino County.
Metro’s board of directors vote June 23 whether to put the sales tax measure on the ballot. If approved by the board, the future of LA transit projects will be up to the voters in November.