To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lack of new San Fernando Valley rail lines draws complaints


By Dakota Smith, December 21, 2014


 San Fernando Valley transit goals for the region include bus improvements and a light rail system along the Orange Line that connects to Bob Hope Airport and the San Gabriel Valley, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian.

Helping Los Angeles shed its image as a car-dependent city, new rail lines are being built across the region at an unprecedented clip.

Along South L.A.’s Crenshaw Boulevard, construction crews are adding a light rail line. In Mid-Wilshire, prep work is underway on a subway to Westwood. And the Expo Line’s final phase, expected to open in 2016, will allow beachgoers to travel from downtown to Santa Monica.

Those projects and others represent L.A.’s biggest transit expansion in decades. They follow passage of 2008’s Measure R, when Los Angeles County voters agreed to fund transportation projects and highway upgrades via a half-cent sales tax.

But as the region’s transit network grows, some say the San Fernando Valley is being left out.
“The Valley clearly has been shortchanged by Measure R,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents parts of the Valley and serves on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board.

Narrowly approved by voters, Measure R launched a flurry of construction projects and helped raise federal dollars to pay for new rail lines. The sales tax is expected to raise about $38 billion over 30 years.

With the exception of a new Orange Line busway extension, which opened in 2012, no major Measure R projects have broken ground in the Valley. Instead, studies are being conducted on a rail or bus line along Van Nuys Boulevard. A new Sepulveda Pass transit line is in the early planning stages.

As Measure R funds expand transit options in other parts of the city, Valley leaders say they are growing increasingly impatient.

Renee Berlin, Metro’s managing executive officer of transit corridor planning, said the agency considers population, employment centers and travel routes when prioritizing bus and rail projects. Financing also plays a major role, she said.

“We’re a county agency,” Berlin said. “We don’t look at what one area has. ... We look at it from a countywide perspective.”

The complaints from the Valley come at a sensitive time. Metro is considering a 2016 ballot measure that would ask voters to fund more transit projects. In the next two months, officials are expected to begin finalizing a list of possible countywide projects for the ballot measure, which some are calling Measure R2.

The new measure comes after voters rejected a 2012 proposal to extend Measure R by 30 years.
Some Metro board members are threatening to withhold support for R2 unless Valley projects are prioritized in the measure.

The Valley received 13 percent of the city of Los Angeles’ total Measure R project funds, despite the fact that the region makes up 39 percent of the city, said Michael Cano, transportation deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

The supervisor, also a Metro board member, opposed Measure R in 2008 and campaigned against it.
According to Krekorian, of the 80 commuter Metro rail stations in Los Angeles County, just two are located in the Valley. The councilman listed a number of transit goals for the region, including bus improvements and a light rail system along the Orange Line that connects to Bob Hope Airport and the San Gabriel Valley.

Metro’s Berlin argues that longstanding legislation hampered rail upgrades along the Orange Line. Until it was repealed this year, a state law forbade converting the route into light rail. The law was requested by local neighborhoods.

Also putting pressure on Metro is Valley on Track, a coalition of business and neighborhood groups that formed earlier this year.

“We just want to get what the rest of the county is getting,” said Stuart Waldman, head of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which founded Valley on Track.

The coalition wants Metro to find funding for Valley-based Measure R projects, including a new Van Nuys Boulevard line. The group also contends that project’s environmental analysis process is taking too long. Metro’s Berlin disputed that, saying an environmental review typically takes 18-24 months.
The Valley isn’t alone in raising complaints about Measure R.

Transit advocates from the San Gabriel Valley to the South Bay have also stated that their communities were overlooked in the planning process.