Thursday, January 8, 2009

LA Mayor Wants Subway Construction Schedule Speeded Up

It's the biggest project eligible for funding under Measure R, a sales tax to raise up to $40 billion for transportation projects in metropolitan Los Angeles. When it is finished, it would extend the subway system's Purple Line out to Santa Monica and provide much-needed congestion relief on LA's West Side.

Right now, however, the biggest question facing it is "when," as is when will it be finished. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans a slow build, with engineering studies not completed until 2013 and the line not reaching Westwood, the neighborhood near the UCLA campus, until 2032. When tracks would reach Santa Monica is up in the air. The Purple Line subway now ends near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, about 10 miles from Westwood.

The snail-like construction pace doesn't sit well with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who would be 78 in 2032. Earlier this week a spokesman for the mayor called the schedule "unacceptable" and urged that it be speeded up.
"We have for the first time an administration in Washington that intends to invest in public transportation," said Villaraigosa press secretary Matt Szabo. "When the mayor was running for office, the Subway to the Sea was mocked as a pipe dream. Now the question is not if it's going to be built, but when it's completed."
Mayor Villaraigosa serves as chair of LAMTA's Board of Directors, which will vote on the plan later this month. They have the power to change it, but, according to the Los Angeles Times, the board rarely makes major changes to what agency officials propose.

The long-range plan pushes back extension of the Green Line light rail to LAX airport to 2022 from 2018, and politicians in the South Bay area are upset about that delay.
"We were totally taken aback by that," said Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Redondo Beach, who has lobbied to bring the Green Line to LAX. "The start date is moved back three years. That's troubling. We're going to fix that."

Check out LA Visions for a complete list of rail and transit projects covered in the long-range plan, plus a route map.

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