With thanks to the Glassell Park Improvement Association for this thoughtful exploration of the 710 extension picture. Read on:
Mayor Villaragosa has made a proposal to accelerate the building of planned transit projects in Los Angeles County. Projects scheduled over the next 30 years under this plan could get built in the next 10 years. As you recall, we the voters of Los Angeles County voted for Proposition R – a .5% increase in the county sales tax to fund regional transit projects over a 30 year period. Projects include the completed Gold line extension to East LA; the new Exposition line that is currently in construction from Downtown to Culver City; planned expansion of the Purple line on the Wilshire corridor to Westwood; the Regional Connector line, downtown; a Crenshaw corridor transit project; extension of the Gold line into the San Gabriel Valley which is in early construction now; a rail connection to LAX; a Green line extension to the South Bay; a San Fernando Valley I-405 corridor transit project and many other projects.
The proposal is to get the Federal government to loan funds to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) now from a proposed transportation infrastructure bank to start construction now. Then as sales tax revenue come in use that money to repay the loan to the transportation bank rather than hold in to tax funds until there are enough to finance starting a project. The Obama administration has shown significant interest in this proposal as a way to create new jobs and put more people back to work. Currently Metro is seeking to enter into an Early Systems Work Agreement (ESWA) with USDOT to build the Regional Connector in downtown and the Westside Subway Extension. They are trying to get over $400 Million for Federal Fiscal Year 2012 to get these projects started and are anticipating getting more in Federal Grants.
One of the projects under Proposition R was some funding for the extension of the 710 freeway/tollway. As you know, the GPIA is against the extension of the 710 in any of the 5 proposed route locations and in particular route #1 and #2 which both end up in Glassell Park. In past articles we have discussed the problems that could come to our community if this road is built. Further, we have suggested building High Speed Rail with improvements to our local freight rail lines would be better public policy for the movement of the freight through the Los Angeles basin. We would suggest any funds for the 710 gap closure be re-allocated to other projects with better cost vs. benefit potential.
Support of the 30/10 plan will allow expansion of passenger movement by mass transit as an alternative to driving in cars. This like the building of High Speed Rail with freight rail improvements will relieve the demand to build the 710 freeway/toll-way and reduce our use of fossil fuels in the LA basin near where we live, work and play as well as breathe.
Move LA is a coalition for a Comprehensive Transportation System in Los Angeles County. They have developed a petition to support Metro’s 30/10 plan. Currently there are many groups who in support of the 30/10 plan have signed this petition including Labor groups, several Chamber of Commerce groups, Environmental groups including the NRDC, Heal the Bay, and the Tree People. Neighborhood Councils in support include the Downtown LA NC, Silverlake NC and the Palms NC. If approved by the GPIA board we would be the first community group in the North East to support the 30/10 plan. You can also sign the petition as an individual if you choose. To read the petition itself and review the full list of groups and companies in support go to www.movela.org/petition.html
In summery, instead of just being against the 710 extension we ca be for the alternatives that meet the demand for both passenger movement and freight movement through the LA basin in general and specifically through Glassell Park. Support the 30/10 plan and construction of High Speed Rail together is better public policy than the 710 extension. Together they are better for Glassell Park and the entire Los Angeles basin.
For more information on Metro and the planned transit projects go to www.metro.net and explore their website.