Measure R Extension: The big-ticket item at Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting is a scheduled vote on whether the Board wants to ask voters to extend the half-cent sales tax beyond its mid-2039 expiration date.
Metro staff is proposing to extend the tax as a way to possibly accelerate all of the Measure R transit projects as well as help advance the construction of some of the road projects. Here’s last week’s post looking at the staff proposal.
I anticipate a lot of questions from the Board, with most of them involving the following:
•How would a Measure R extension deal with funding gaps in many of the projects? Does it fill those gaps or merely supply the money needed to build projects now instead of many years from now?
•If the Measure R transit projects are successfully accelerated, when would funds be available to begin building other projects in Metro’s long-range plan and which projects would be built first?
There is also, no surprise here, likely to be considerable discussion over whether a Measure R extension would fund the Gold Line Foothill Extension beyond the 11.5-mile segment currently being built to Azusa. Metro staff says an extension only funds Measure R projects currently under construction whereas San Gabriel Valley officials say that Measure R intended to fund the entire line to Claremont and that’s what an extension should do.
Of course, there’s some history here. Many San Gabriel Valley officials opposed Measure R in 2008, saying they didn’t trust that Metro would actually supply funds for the Foothill Extension a timely manner. Voters disagreed and approved Measure R and the Foothill Extension, as promised, is now under construction.
The issue in 2008 was interesting because Measure R was the only hope at securing the money for the Foothill Extension. That was the political reality at the local, state and national level. I don’t think that’s changed in the four years since.
Orange Line Extension: The second big Metro project to open in 2012 makes its public debut on Saturday. There’s a VIP ceremony on Friday, although I like to think the most very important people are the taxpayers who coughed up the dough for the project.
As with any new Metro project, it’s always interesting to see — and hard to predict — how users will integrate the new line into their everyday lives. One obvious benefit here is that the Orange Line Extension offers an easy connection between the Metrolink and Amtrak station in Chatsworth and Warner Center, a major employment center — as well as other major destinations in the Valley.
It’s also good to see a major Metro project extend into the northern part of the San Fernando Valley.
Another benefit won’t be realized for some time but it’s definitely a good thing: at some point in the future it’s likely that the Orange Line could tie into either the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project or the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project that will connect to the Sepulveda Pass project. (I know: a little confusing).
On a practical level, this bodes well for residents of the western Valley because there will be frequent bus service to a major north-south corridor intended to help speed Valley residents to the Westside. Again, think network here people. A lot of work remains to be done — and a lot more money needed — but the possibility remains that the county isn’t that far from having a transit system that people can use to cover serious distances in a lot less time than is now possible.
Expo Line’s Culver City station: I suspect that the Expo Line will become a lot more useful to a lot more people now that it picks up and drops off passengers a stone’s throw from downtown Culver City.
First, a tip: for those walking to downtown Culver City, use the stairs or elevator at the far end of the platform (i.e. where the tracks end) as that shortens the walk. From the bottom of the stairs, proceed to Venice Boulevard, turn left and then left one block later onto Culver Boulevard and proceed into the heart of Culver City. It’s about one-half mile from the station to Fords Filling Station, which sits in the middle of the downtown area.
Another tip: if you’re heading to the Helms Bakery complex, exit the stairs closest to the beginning of the platform and then walk about .25 miles eastbound on Washington Boulevard to Helms Avenue and then turn left. It’s a very easy, flat walk and it’s great to see Father’s Office and their fine beer, burgers and fries be so transit accessible.