Friday, April 23, 2010

LACMTA Directors back plan to accelerate 12 transit projects

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s visionary proposal to greatly accelerate construction of a dozen transit projects and expedite highway improvement projects won the key approval Thursday of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.

The so-called 30/10initiative would seek advanced federal funding to build within the next decade a series of light rail, regional, and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) projects throughout Los Angeles County.

In announcing the board’s action, LACMTA noted that “the projects will receive local funding spread over the next three decades under Measure R, a local transportation half-cent sales tax approved by two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters in November 2008. All the projects are slated for construction during the next 30 years.

The 30/10 initiative asks Congress and the Obama Administration to advance funding so the transit projects could get built much faster and generate hundreds of thousandsof construction and other jobs to help jump-start the economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ease traffic congestion. The funding package could include existing or new programs to provide low-interest financing or loan guarantees.

In recent testimony before Congress, Villaraigosa said the benefits of the 30/10 initiative would include “an annual reduction of 568,000 pounds of mobile-source pollutionemissions, 10.3 million fewer gallons of gasoline used, 77 million more transitboardings, and 208 million fewer vehicle miles traveled annually.”

“This is a win-win for the Los Angeles region and the nation,” said LACMTA Chairman Ara Najarian. “If we can leverage our local tax dollars with federal support, we could put as many as half a million people to work in the next 10 years while getting morepeople out of their cars and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a model for other transportation agencies throughout America.”

“Both in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C., people are getting on board with 30/10 to build sustainable transit projects faster, cleaning the air, and creating jobs. This innovative model to advance funds from Measure R won’t break the federalbank and can be the catalyst to economic recovery in the Los Angeles region,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.