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The 2008 Half-Cent Sales Tax Measure for Transportation

A half-cent sales tax increase was passed by the voters of LA County in 2008 to provide local resources to finance new transportation projects and advance those already in the pipeline. This measure appeared on the ballot as Measure R and is in place for 30 years, until 2039. Not all projects are fully funded and some won't be completed until the end of that 30-year period. It also provides funding for Metro bus and rail operations, money for local jurisdictions to complete their own transportation projects, and for Metro's administrative costs.

Measure J

Measure J would extend the half-cent sales tax another 30 years, to 2069. Metro would bond against the amount of monies forecasted to be generated during these additional 30 years in order to accelerate construction of seven rail and rapid transit projects and up to eight highway projects.

Revenue Generated

Measure J is forecast to generate approximately $90 billion more in local sales tax revenue over the 30-year period from 2039 to 2069. 

Estimated Cost of Measure J

According to a 2008 study by the private nonprofit Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), Measure R costs LA County residents an average of $25 per person per year. Because Measure J will extend Measure R at the existing rate, it is anticipated that Measure J costs will remain the same, adjusted for inflation. Tourists and businesses also contribute money through the sales tax. 

Acceleration of Projects via Measure J

Congress recently expanded a federal loan program called the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). This program allows Metro to sell more bonds (up to 35 years) and the proceeds from the sale of these bonds would accelerate the construction of transportation projects. The bonds will be repaid over time, with interest (currently 2.73%).

Administrative Costs

Measure R provides for Metro administrative costs of no more than 1.5% each year. Measure J would continue this appropriation.

Projects That Will Be Accelerated By Measure J

All projects will be within Los Angeles County. The accelerated transit projects include the second phase of the Gold Line Eastside Extension; the Green Line Extension to Los Angeles International Airport; the Green Line Extension: Redondo Beach Station to South Bay Corridor; the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor transit project; the Regional Connector (links local rail lines); the San Fernando Valley I-405 Transit Corridor; and the second and third phases of the Westside Subway Extension.

Transit Project Acceleration

Metro anticipates that the following highway projects will be accelerated: I-405, I-110, I-105 and SR-91 Ramp and Interchange Improvements; I-5 North Capacity Enhancements: SR-14 to Kern County Line (Phase 2); I-605 Corridor "Hot Spot" (especially congested) Interchanges; highway operational improvements in Arroyo Verdugo and Las Virgenes/Malibu Subregions; county-wide soundwall construction; I-710 South and/or Early Action Projects; and Burlington Northern Santa Fe safety upgrades such as grade separations between tracks and streets.

Other Eligible Projects and Programs

Measure J revenues will be used to fund the same seven transportation funding categories of the current Measure R for another 30 years and will generate a total of $90 billion for transportation improvements. 

Expenditure Plan After 1.5% administration costs

Fifteen percent of the revenues (after administrative costs) would continue to be allocated to the 88 local cities and Los Angeles County unincorporated areas on a per capita basis for local projects.

Measure R will generate $5.9 billion for the Local Return Program through 2039. Measure J would provide an additional $13.3 billion for these types of local improvements through 2069.

Projects that can be funded include:

  • pothole repair
  • signal synchronization
  • local roadway and bridge safety improvements
  • bikeway and pedestrian enhancements
  • local transit services
  • carpool and rideshare programs
  • discounted transit fares for residents
Local Return Improvements 60-Year Outlook $ in Millions

Measure J for Bus and Rail Service

Under the current Measure R, 20% of the funds go to bus operations and 5% go to rail operations (after 1.5% for administrative expenses are collected).

Measure R will generate $9.9 billion for transit operations and is scheduled to end in 2039. Measure J will generate $22.2 billion for the operation of bus and rail services over an additional 30 years, until 2069. These revenues can also be used to help keep fares low for seniors, students and the disabled.

Bus and Rail Operations 60-Year Outlook $ in Millions

Projects Completed or Under Construction Using Current 2008 Measure R Funds

Two rail projects are currently under construction: the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and Santa Monica, and the Gold Line Foothill Extension between Pasadena and Azusa. 

Environmental studies have been completed for three other rail projects – the Crenshaw Transit Corridor Project, the Regional Connector (links local rail lines) and the Westside Subway Extension.

The first Measure R project, the Orange Line Busway Extension to Chatsworth, opened on June 30th, 2012. 

Measure R highway projects under construction include: a carpool lane on the 5 freeway between the 134 and 170; the carpool lane connector between the 5 and 14 freeways; and the widening of the 5 freeway at the Orange County line.

Funding for Operating New Projects

Metro will have sufficient funding to operate all new projects once they are completed. 

The Federal Transit Administration reviews Metro's financial plans on a regular basis and the FTA's latest rating indicates that Metro can pursue future building plans.

Measure J will allow Metro to continue a dedicated source of funding for transit operations for another 30 years beyond the current period. Metro also has identified several sources of revenue in future years that may be used for operating new transit lines: lease revenue from new development at Union Station, new ad revenue from rail expansion, and federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds available between now and 2040.

Funding for New Projects

Measure J requires that funding be allocated first to the project list approved by Measure R. Once the Measure R projects are completed, funds could then be directed to projects in the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which is a required report listing the highest priority projects in LA County. Accelerated project completion is anticipated to free up other non-Measure J funds for new projects. This would occur sometime after completion of the accelerated projects in approximately 2025.  The Measure J funds themselves are not expected to be available to fund new major transit and highway capital projects until the loans used to accelerate the currently planned projects are repaid after 2050.

Expenditure Plan Amendments

Measure J would also allow funds to be shifted between transit and highway projects within the same geographic subregion of Los Angeles County, if approved by a two-thirds vote of the Metro Board. Under the current Measure R, Metro is permitted to make these revenue transfers once every 10 years, and only after 2019.

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