Leahy tells Congress that he supports 30/10 initiative

Metro CEO Art Leahy testified before a subcommittee in the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning in Washington and urged support for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative. The mayor’s plan proposes to build a dozen mass transit projects — all of which receive funding from the Measure R sales tax increase — in the next 10 years instead of the next 30.

Metro CEO Art Leahy

For example, under the initiative the Westside Subway Extension would be complete to Westwood by 2017 instead of 2036. Several other projects – such as the second phase of the Gold Line Eastside Extension – would be done in the next decade instead of opening in the 2030s.

Leahy was speaking to the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. Leahy also indicated that Measure R’s highway projects are ripe for innovative financing to help complete those projects earlier.

Here’s a link to his entire testimony and below is a key excerpt:

To conclude my remarks, I want to address an exciting new transportation proposal in Southern California that will depend–in part–on using innovative financing tools – to get hundreds of thousands of people back to work in our region.

As members of this Subcommittee may be aware, the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles has proposed accelerating the transit projects identified in the half cent sales tax adopted by Los Angeles County voters in November of 2008. Specifically, the Mayor is seeking federal support to permit these transit projects to be built within 10 years, not the 30 years outlined in Measure R, the half-cent sales measure.

Similarly, I believe our highway projects identified in Measure R are ripe for innovative financing and public private partnerships that serve the public good and make economic sense.

Tomorrow, at a MTA Board subcommittee meeting back in Los Angeles, I will recommend to our full Board of Directors to support what has become known as the 30/10 plan. I believe the benefits we can realize from this plan will be great for the region and the nation and will demonstrate the importance of leveraging a strong local commitment with important federal support to accelerate the twelve transit projects identified in Measure R.

In testimony offered last month before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Mayor of Los Angeles cited the benefits of accelerating the transit Measure R’s transit program– which included an annual reduction of over 568,000 pounds of mobile source emissions, 10.3 million fewer gallons of gasoline used, 77 million more transit boardings and 208 million fewer vehicle miles traveled annually.

In addition to the acceleration of transit projects, I also believe that accelerating the construction schedule of highway projects included Measure R is vital for our region.

Leahy goes on to outline three federal financing tools that would help accelerate Measure R projects.

A motion submitted last week by two members of the Board of Directors – Diane DuBois and Pam O’Connor – asks that highway projects also be included in the 30/10 initiative.

The Board of Directors will begin their consideration of the 30/10 initiative in its Planning Committee today at 1 p.m. at Metro headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.