Friday July 01, 2011
In his third term as Chairman of the Metro Board of Directors, the Mayor seeks to accelerate the transportation agenda.
"In the face of monumental traffic congestion and rising energy costs, our ambitious transportation agenda of the last five years has exceeded all expectations," said Villaraigosa. "Today, thanks to voters who approved the Measure R sales tax and the subsequent national initiative gaining speed to build transit now, we have a turn-key system ready to go to build a dozen mass transit projects with the incentive of creating thousands of jobs and the potential to rebuild the economy of the region."
Measure R is the half-cent sales tax approved by the voters during the Mayor's second chairmanship in November 2008. When voters in Los Angeles County voted to tax themselves to fund much-needed transportation projects in November 2008, they set into motion a $40 billion funding mechanism to help fund dozens of critical transit and highway projects, which would in turn create a wide range of more than 210,000 jobs and infuse an estimated $32 billion back into the local economy.
Measure R projects took on a new momentum with the Mayor's "30/10 Initiative," adopted by the Metro Board in early 2010, to accelerate the construction of Measure R transit projects with federal financing.
Generating national interest, the local 30/10 program has since transformed into a national campaign named "America Fast Forward," a model plan to use low-cost federal loans and bonds to build transit now - before construction costs rise - that other transit agencies can use to build transit and infrastructure projects.
The Mayor noted that the next year is crucial in the transportation agency's agenda, when major projects are coming online. Among them: the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project, a proposed 8.5-mile light rail line that will extend from the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw Boulevards to the Metro Green Line's Aviation/LAX Station; the Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile fully-underground connection in downtown Los Angeles that will link four light rail lines, minimizing the need for rail transfers; and the Westside Subway Extension: a 9-mile subway extension that will serve Century City and Westwood/UCLA.
According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, these three projects alone are estimated to create nearly 75,000 local jobs, plus generate an additional 25,000 jobs across the nation.
"We need to bring all of our resources to bear to manage mobility with a vigorous infrastructure designed to increase economic vitality and environmental quality of the region," he said.
This is the third chairmanship of the transportation agency undertaken by Mayor Villaraigosa since his election to the city's top post in 2005 and subsequent re-election in 2009.
Taking up the gavel as chairman for the 2011-12 fiscal year, Mayor Villaraigosa re-affirmed his vision for maintaining a first-class bus system, investing in new rail lines and improving transit security.
"We are energized to fulfill the mandate from the voters to build the projects paid for by Measure R," said the Mayor, "and with "America Fast Forward," we can build them now!"
In fact, one of the first Measure R projects to be funded -- the $216-million Metro Orange Line four-mile extension of the dedicated transitway to Chatsworth -- is approaching completion and expected to be operational by summer of 2012.
Transportation projects fresh off the drawing boards include a dozen rail and rapid transit expansion projects, 15 highway projects, street improvements, traffic reduction, public transportation and 'quality of life' projects such as construction of rail and grade separations, soundwalls to reduce freeway noise levels, and facilities to house and maintain new clean-fuel buses.
The 13-member Board of Directors is comprised of the five Los Angeles County Supervisors, four members appointed by the Los Angeles County City Selection Committee, and three members appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles. The position of Board Chair rotates between the three groups.
With a total bus and rail ridership approaching 1.5 million boardings a year, Metro is the third largest public transportation agency in the United States. It has a $4.145 billion annual budget and nearly 9,000 employees. It operates the nation's largest clean-air fleet of CNG-fueled 2,228 buses within a 1,433 square mile service area. Metro also operates the 73.1-mile Metro Rail System, which includes the Metro Red Line subway and the Metro Blue, Metro Green and Metro Gold light rail lines.
As the region's primary transportation planner and transit provider, Metro also funds such programs as paratransit services, bikeways, street and freeway improvements and the Metro Freeway Service Patrol, which aids stranded highway motorists free of charge.