Metro’s bold plan to transform transportation

A long list of transit projects, road improvements and commuting options could be built over the next five decades under a $120-plus billion spending plan Metro released Friday for a potential November sales tax ballot measure. The Metro staff report and attachments are above, including some revisions made since the report’s initial release last Friday. Here’s the link to a PDF of the report and attachments on metro.net.

The spending plan would also devote billions of dollars to pedestrian and cycling projects, commuter rail, transit operations and programs to keep the Metro transit system in a state of good repair. The plan, too, would return billions to local cities — money those cities could spend on their own local transportation projects and transit services.

The big theme here in one sentence: we’ve come a long way in building a modern transportation system in Los Angeles County but we still have work to do.

Many transformative projects are part of the plan. If the ballot measure goes to voters and is approved, the sales tax would begin in mid-2017 and target the following highway and transit projects to be completed in the plan’s first 15 years:

Transit projects (first 15 years) 

•Construction of an expansive rail station/transit center where Crenshaw/LAX Line riders will transfer to a people mover (which LAX is planning to build) that will serve LAX terminals.

•The Purple Line Extension subway to Westwood (a decade earlier than currently planned).

•A potential rail line or bus rapid transit project on Van Nuys Boulevard north of the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley.

•A new ExpressLane and bus service along the 405 spanning the Sepulveda Pass. A second phase of the project would add a potential underground rail line between the Orange Line and Purple Line. A third phase would extend the project from the Purple Line to the LAX area.

•Grade separations and improvements for the Orange Line busway in preparation for a mid-century conversion to light rail.

•A potential light rail line between Artesia and the Green Line in South Gate. A second phase in the 2030s would extend this new line from the Green Line to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

•A bus rapid transit project on Vermont Avenue between Hollywood and 120th Street, which includes the stretch of Vermont between the Red/Purple Line and the Expo Line.

•An extension of the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont.

•Bus rapid transit between the Orange Line and Red Line in North Hollywood and the Gold Line in Pasadena.

Highway projects (first 15 years)

•Purchase of right-of-way for the High Desert Corridor, a potential new freeway, energy and high-speed rail corridor between the 14 freeway and State Route 18 in San Bernardino County.

•A project on the 710 South between the ports and the 60 freeway to improve congestion, ease truck traffic and improve the movement of freight. It will be built in two phases, with the second phase in the next 15 years of the spending plan.

•New lanes for the 71 freeway in Pomona between Interstate 10 and Rio Rancho Road.

•ExpressLanes on the 105 freeway between the 405 and 605.

•A new carpool lane and truck lane in each direction on the 5 freeway between the 14 freeway and Lake Hughes Road in the Santa Clarita area.

•SR 57/SR 60 interchange improvements.

An active transportation project in the first 15 years is completing the Los Angeles River bike path between downtown Los Angeles and the western San Fernando Valley.

Other projects to be built in the second 15 years of the plan: an extension of the Green Line to Torrance; an extension of the Eastside Gold Line to South El Monte or Whittier (the other branch could be built later as an option to accompany an additional 10 year extension of the tax); direct HOV connectors for the 60/105 and 405/110 interchanges; new auxiliary lanes and ramp improvements on the 405 in the South Bay, and; an extension of the 110 ExpressLanes to the 405.

Projects in the final 10 years of the plan: a potential northern extension of the Crenshaw Line to the Purple Line, West Hollywood and Hollywood; bus rapid transit on Lincoln Boulevard, and; an extension of the Green Line to the Norwalk Metrolink Station.   

The full list of projects can be found in Attachment A of the report posted above. A description of the major projects is in Attachment H.

Please keep in mind these projects are on top of the three under construction (Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Extension to Wilshire/La Cienega and Regional Connector) and the one that is about to open, the Expo Line to Santa Monica (May 20).

The potential ballot measure would ask voters to increase the countywide sales tax by a half-cent for 40 years and to continue an existing half-cent sales tax (Measure R) for 18 years. The staff report will also provide the Board with scenarios for taxes running longer than 40 years.

The Metro Board of Directors will decide at their meeting next Thursday whether to formally release the draft plan to the public and begin a public review and input period. If the Board releases the plan, Metro would hold community meetings and Telephone Town Halls across the county this spring.

Another point of emphasis: This is a draft plan for public review. It could change. The Metro Board will have the final say on the spending plan and whether to put a ballot measure before county voters. That decision is scheduled to be made at the Board meeting on June 23.

Why do I use the word ‘potential’ when discussing some of the above projects? Because Metro still must complete environmental studies for those projects. The spending plan seeks to provide enough funds for more expensive alternatives that were not previously fully funded.

The spending plan for the potential ballot measure is based on input from stakeholders across Los Angeles County. Metro staff selected projects to be funded and the order in which they would be built based on wide-ranging criteria. Among them: improving travel times, increasing safety, providing better access to transit for those most dependent on it, reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change and creating and maintaining local jobs.

Something else that is crucially important to understand: having local funds is the key to building anything these days. Local dollars attract state and federal dollars. That’s how things get built in the 21st century. Example: Metro used local funds to help secure nearly $1.9 billion to help build the Regional Connector project and the first segment of the Purple Line Extension.

To say the least, this is an ambitious plan. I encourage everyone to read the staff report and attachments. There is a lot here to digest. We’ll try best to answer your questions in the comment sections. And we’ll certainly be posting a lot about many aspects of the plan in the coming weeks.

Metro also invites the public to provide input by emailing theplan@metro.net.

The home page for the The Plan is here.

And here’s the official press release from Metro.

103 replies

  1. I agree with Bjorn that the 710 should be completed through South Pasadena. It is incredible that one community can hold up the construction for 50 years while others have accepted the imposition of construction to accommodate progress.

  2. Grade separation on the Orange Line would be great as would conversion to light rail, but couldn’t an interim arrangement be the installation of crossing gates?

    • Hi OC Mike;

      Grade separations are going to be studied so we’ll see what form those separations take. It may be overpasses or underpasses or perhaps crossing gates. The gates are interesting and I’ve heard readers propose them before. Probably the big issue there is that I’m unaware of any other busway that uses them. There could also be state regulations about gates. I think what gets built depends on what planners feel might be necessary for an eventual rail conversion. Stay tuned!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. They should have made the 710 in there. South pasesena needs to shut up. Also the Norwalk green line to Whittier is genius El Duderino!

  4. LA County and Orange County have a lot of rivers flowing through them. The land those rivers flow through belongs to the State, so the State don’t have to buy land. So why not build a network of freeways on those rivers that can accommodate such construction whose cost would be the cost of the construction.

    • Hi Tony;

      I think the answer is twofold: 1. Building a road that wouldn’t float away would be challenging to say the least. 2. The flood control channels were once creeks and rivers. They are used by wildlife and there are efforts to restore parts of them to a more natural state.

      That said, there are some good bike paths along some of the rivers already and there’s no reason — other than money — there couldn’t be more bike paths along these natural corridors for travel.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Nothing will work until the present schedules will be fixed acordinlly to reallity. 1. Rush hour should be finish at 10:00 PM not at 7:00PM. 2. METRO (red line) should be running every 7 mins not every 20 mins. 3. Shorter and smaller units that run more frecuent new bus lines to the Metro Stations should be add. (Waiting 30mins for a bus from Wilshiere/Western to Westwood at 5PM is not acceptable). 4. An all day pass with all transfers should be more affortable $5.00 5. More parking lots next to the metro stations need. SMALL STEPS to make more efficient the system most be taken to mativate people to leave their cars and ride Metro.