Los Angeles County voters will officially decide in November whether to extend from 30 to 60 years a half-cent sales tax that would accelerate public transportation projects across the region.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill over the weekend that allows Metro to place Measure J on the Nov. 6 ballot. If approved, it would require the transit agency to break ground on 15 major transit and highway projects within 5 years instead of 20 years.
The covered projects include extending a subway to Westwood, the Green
Line to LAX and the Gold Line into the San Gabriel Valley and a new transit
corridor along the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.
If approved, Measure J would be an extension of Measure R, which is otherwise set to expire in 2039.
Measure R contains funding for local projects like the Gold Line extension to the Azusa/Glendora border and the 710 Tunnel project. There is also money for local highways.
Tax measures require two-thirds voter approval to pass. Measure R received 67.1 percent of the vote in 2008.
Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who rerpesents most of the San Gabriel Valley opposes the extending the tax, saying it prevents the transit agency from asking voters for money for projects that become important in the future.
The Bus Riders Union, an advocacy group for low-income and minority bus riders, also opposes the tax extension. The group says the accelerated transit project will come at the expense of bus service, which has been cut in recent years.
Supporters of extending the tax include Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D- Los Angeles. The backers say extending the tax will allow Metro to accelerate projects, creating thousands of construction jobs and eventually easing traffic.
"We need to get these transportation projects underway now," Feuer said. "By signing AB 1446, the governor has agreed to empower L.A. County voters to jumpstart 250,000 jobs and break through traffic congestion that chokes our region."
— This article was compiled with information provided by City News Service.