Metro Board votes 10-3 to ask county voters to extend Measure R sales tax to 2069

The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday voted 10 to 3 to ask Los Angeles County voters to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax for 30 years beyond its 2039 expiration date to possibly accelerate transit and road projects funded by the original Measure R while creating jobs in the region.

The three ‘no’ votes came from Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas. The remaining members of the Board voted ‘yes.’

The Board had to decide between an indefinite extension of Measure R, a 30-year extension and leaving Measure R as is. Metro staff proposed an indefinite extension but the Board chose to back a motion by Directors Diane DuBois and Richard Katz to go with the 30-year option.

The Board hopes to put the issue to voters in November when a high turnout is expected because of the presidential election. In order for that to happen, the state Legislature must first approve a state bill, AB 1446 (by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles), that if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown would allow the Measure R extension on the ballot. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors must also vote to allow the item on the November ballot.

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa said after the vote that the extension proposal was backed by a wide coalition who viewed an expanded transit system as a way to make Los Angeles County look and function better while creating jobs in the process.

Villariagosa also noted that a new transportation funding bill pending in Congress would include an expanded federal TIFIA low-interest loan program. A Measure R extension could allow Metro to leverage those loans into potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for project acceleration.

Metro staff are recommending an extension of Measure R as a way to possibly complete the 12 Measure R transit projects by the mid-2020s and have the projects under construction within five years; the staff report is here (pdf). Under current plans, six Measure R plans would not have been complete until the late 2020s or 2030s but now may be accelerated. The projects are:

•The Westside Subway Extension to Westwood

•The Eastside Gold Line Extension to South El Monte or Whittier

•The Metro Connector to LAX

•The Green Line South Bay Extension to Torrance

•The West Santa Ana Branch Corridor project

•The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project

In addition, a Measure R extension would help fund the Regional Connector, which is currently planned for a 2019 completion.

Metro staff says that an extension of Measure R would allow them to use future Measure R revenues beyond the year 2039 to pay back loans and/or bonds that could be used to accelerate the projects. The Measure R extension proposal, however, does not obligate Metro to take any loans or sell any bonds.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 28

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Orange Line busway is Metro’s quiet success story (L.A. Times)

With the Orange Line Extension opening Saturday, the reporter posits that perhaps there should be more busways and less rail projects in L.A. County and cherrypicks a few stats to back up that point. I think the Orange Line is a success, but I also think the story could have pointed out that four of Metro’s rail lines have significantly higher ridership than the busway and that the fifth rail line — Expo — just opened.

Tentative deal reached on 2-year transportation bill (New York Times)

After nine extensions of the transpo funding bill approved by Congress in 2005, the current Congress looks to have an agreement on a two-year bill. Funding stays at current levels and the bill looks to more closely resemble a bipartisan version reached in the Senate rather than a highly partisan bill floated by the Republican-led House.

Battle lines drawn in high-speed rail vote (L.A. Streetsblog)

A good overview of the three main proposals on the table as the state Legislature prepares to vote on whether to release funds for construction of the first segment of the bullet train in the San Joaquin Valley.


Metro Board of Directors meeting is underway

Good morning, this is your government speaking.

The gavel just dropped on today’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors. Here is the agenda.

You can listen to the meeting over the phone at 213-922-6045.

With little else in the news today — the Ann Curry story is now two hours old, yawn — the big item at today’s meeting is a scheduled vote on whether to ask Los Angeles County voters to extend the Measure R sales tax past its 2039 sunset date.

Much more later today.


The Orange Line Extension's new bike lane

The view looking north toward the Santa Susana Mountains.

In addition to the new four miles of busway, the Orange Line Extension features four new miles of bike lane and walking path between Canoga station and the Chatsworth train station. Check out this story on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.

The accompanying photos were taken by Metro’s Dave Sotero, an accomplished cyclist known for using his folding bike as part of his daily work commute.

The view south.

The view south from Nordhoff station.

Bike lockers at the Nordhoff station.

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The art of transit

photo by Greg Spotts, via Twitter

Art panels being installed along the Orange Line Extension in preparation for its public debut on Saturday.

To submit a photo for the Art of Transit, post it to Metro’s Flickr group, email it to or Tweet it to @metrolosangeles with an #artoftransit hashtag. Many of the photos we’ve featured can be seen in these galleries on Flickr.

Congress may finally have a new multi-year transportation spending bill

The story has been developing throughout the day — it seems the Senate and House have struck a deal to pass the first multi-year bill since 2005. That bill had expired in 2009 and been given a number of short-term extensions while Congress bickered over the new bill.

It’s never over until it’s over, but the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the new bill includes a key provision of the America Fast Forward plan championed by Metro and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who came up with the idea. The provision would expand the federal loan program known as TIFIA that could help Metro accelerate transit projects by borrowing against future Measure R revenues.

I’ll post more when we get a summary from Metro’s government relations team.