By Edwin Folven, 10/04/2012
Measure J will appear on November ballot
Voters will decide in November whether to extend Measure R, the countywide sales tax increase established in 2008 to pay for public transportation projects such as the Westside Subway Extension.
The new ballot initiative, named Measure J, would extend the sales tax increase currently expected to expire in 2039 through 2069, raising billions of dollars for projects. Measure R raised the countywide sales tax from 8.25 to 8.75 percent. Placing Measure J on the November ballot required the passage of a measure authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), which was signed last weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown. Measure J would ensure dedicated funding for an additional 30 years, and according to Feuer, it is critical in getting projects built in a timely manner.
“This is potentially an historic moment for Los Angeles,” Feuer said. “We have a chance to jumpstart a quarter-million jobs, and build these projects that may otherwise take thirty years in closer to ten years. Projects that will break the gridlock in our county.”
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is backing Measure J, and representatives said the funding it creates will potentially speed up construction of seven new light rail lines, and eight highway improvement projects. Metro could issue bonds based on future revenues. In addition to the Westside Subway Extension, which could be built by 2023, the funding could be used to accelerate the LAX and Downtown regional connector lines, the Green Line Extension, the Gold Line Eastside Extension and the West Santa Ana Branch in southeast Los Angeles County.
“It allows us to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, jumpstart the economy and take advantage of low construction bids,” Metro Spokesman Marc Littman said. “In some lines, you get the mobility benefits and air quality benefits by building them much sooner.”
Feuer added that Measure J will directly benefit the local area.
“It will definitely speed up construction of the subway to the Westside, including the stop at Wilshire and Fairfax,” he added. “It is hard to overstate the importance of passing Measure J.”
The Crenshaw Line, which will run between the Expo Line and the Green Line, also received a boost Monday when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it would provide Metro with a $545 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Loan. Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo said it will allow construction to begin in 2013, with completion by 2018.
“This enables us to move forward with this project,” Ubaldo said. “It connects the Green Line to the Expo Line, and enables the public to take better advantage of the rail system.”
The 8.5-mile Crenshaw Line will have six stations, and is anticipated to cost $1.7 billion. Ubaldo said the federal loan will be augmented with Measure R funding to cover the cost of the project.
“We are already waiting for bids for construction,” he added. “It is an important link in the system.”