By Luke Money, December 26, 2013
Metro officials are considering a
new transportation tax measure on the Los Angeles County ballot in 2014
or 2016, a move that could speed up construction work for ongoing
projects or allow the agency to approve new ones.
Though nothing has yet been finalized, Marc Littman, a spokesman for
the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said
Thursday that two primary options for a ballot measure are currently
would extend Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase approved by
voters in 2008 that provides funding for transportation and transit
projects throughout Los Angeles County.
The measure, as approved, extends the sales tax hike through 2039 and
is expected to generate more than $30 billion over its lifetime.
Littman said extending Measure R would allow Metro to accelerate work for planned or ongoing projects.
J, a similar proposal to lengthen the lifespan of Measure R, fell just
short of the necessary two-thirds vote for passage in the November 2012
A second option, Littman said, would be a new measure that would supplement Measure R.
“With a new ballot measure, you could start from scratch with new projects,” he said.
Littman said Metro has retained a polling firm to survey county
residents and see what kind of support there would be for a new measure.
Those findings will likely be presented and discussed at a Metro Board of Directors meeting in January, Littman said.
In the meantime, Metro officials are also canvassing local governments to see what types of projects might need funding.
“We’re going out to local councils of governments and asking for
feedback on what projects they would like to see,” he said. “We’re going
all around the county trying to get that grassroots feedback.”
County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich wrote in an email that the
“new proposal will correct the fatal flaws in Measure J by including the
input and participation of all regions of Los Angeles County.”
“Our goal is to ensure that transportation funding supports a
comprehensive regional plan that includes rail connections to our
airports, upgrades to Metrolink and projects benefiting communities
neglected by Measure J including the South Bay, the Gateway Cities and
the Antelope, San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita Valleys,” he
Since its passage, Measure R funding has bankrolled a variety of projects countywide, including in the Santa Clarita Valley.
A project to construct a carpool connector between Interstate 5 and
Highway 14 received $90.8 million in funding from the measure, according
Funding has also been set aside to add new carpool and truck lanes to
the I-5 through the Santa Clarita Valley. But Metro officials have
since said that amount of money is insufficient for the carpool lanes.
The estimated shortcoming is a reason cited by Metro officials for a
proposal to charge tolls to offset some of the costs of constructing the
two new carpool lanes, which would run on a 13.5-mile stretch of
Interstate 5 from Castaic to the junction with Highway 14.
Officials say funding from Measure R and another pot, Proposition C,
would not be fully available for years and would still fall about $100
million short of the project’s estimated cost of $410 million.
Under a proposal approved by the Metro Board of Directors earlier
this year, the county would seek out a partnership with a private
company that would pay the upfront costs of building the carpool lanes,
perhaps completing them by as early as 2019.
Metro would then assess per-mile tolls to help pay back the cost of constructing the lanes.
Those driving alone would be subject to the toll at all times and
cars with fewer than three people would be charged during “peak” travel
hours, according to the project proposal.