Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board of Director member Antonio Villaraigosa just finished up a phone call with members of the local press about the 30/10 Initiative and tomorrow’s Board vote on selecting routes for the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector projects.
The 30/10 plan seeks to build 12 Measure R transit projects in the next 10 years and also accelerate the construction of road projects by using federal loans and financing. Villaraigosa first floated the idea for the plan last year and the Metro Board of Directors subsequently voted to make it official agency policy.
A few highlights:
•Dan Weikel and Rich Simon of the L.A. Times asked Villaraigosa about the possibility of getting the 30/10 plan through Congress if Republicans next week win a majority in the House of Representatives next; Simon pointed out that Republicans in the House have vowed to cut federal spending. The mayor said that although he’s had a tougher time getting necessary funding for the city from Republicans, he’s hopeful he would still be able to win bipartisan support for 30/10 — and he sees support from Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for expanding the federal Tifia loan program as a sign it’s possible.
“My hope is that no matter what happens in the election we’ll get bipartisan support for this,” Villaraigosa said. “I recognize that we’ll have to go make the case. I think that both parties recognize that the infrastructure need [in the country] is great and we’re not competing with the developing world….and in that world we still need to fix or our roads and highways and build public transit and in that world this [the 30/10 plan] is the best way to address that need. The philosophy around 30/10 should be embraced by Republicans. I’ve heard some of the statements about what’s going to happen after Tuesday and that means I’ve got my work cut out for [me].”
•Zach Behrens of LAist asked whether 30/10 was something that would happen all at once or whether it would be like the federal loan recently given to the Crenshaw/LAX line — a piece-by-piece program. The mayor indicated that the hope is to rewrite federal law to include several types of financing programs for transit projects. “Thirty-ten will never happen if it’s a Los Angeles plan,” Villaraigosa said. “It needs to be a national plan.”
•I asked the mayor when planning may actually begin on the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project — the one Measure R project in which no planning has taken place by Metro or any other agency. Deputy Mayor for Transportation Jaime de la Vega said that studies haven’t been launched yet while work was being done on putting the 30/10 Initiative together. Mayor Villaraigosa said that he had in mind what he would like the project to be — and believes it could attract more riders than many other Measure R projects. But he said it was important not to create any additional political distractions at this point.