One of the key questions facing the Metro Board of Directors at its meeting Thursday: should Metro continue to plan projects that are scheduled to be built in the second and third decades of Measure R?
These include transit projects such as an extension of the Gold Line from East Los Angeles, a Green Line extension from Redondo Beach, the Airport Metro Connector and the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor project.
Some quick background. Measure R is the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. Measure R expires in mid-2039. The schedule to build transit projects that Measure R will help fund are staggered over the 30 years for a simple reason: the sales tax funds needed to pay for the projects flows into county coffers over time, not all at once.
Even though several projects are not scheduled to completed until the 2020s or 2030s, Metro has been working on the required environmental studies for them. Why? Because the Metro Board has pursued strategies to secure funding to accelerate those projects (such as America Fast Forward). And history has shown time and again that transit projects that are clearly defined with solid plans are more competitive when it comes to winning often scarce money.
There is one important caveat to consider: once finished, environmental studies have a shelf life of about three years. If work doesn’t begin on a project within three years of the completion of the environmental documents, the studies for that project would likely need to be updated, which can be pricey and time-consuming.
Below is the Metro staff report (pdf here). It is scheduled to be considered at the Metro Board of Directors meeting Thursday at 9:00 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station.