Metro wants to extend sales tax indefinitely to fund billions in projects

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The Metropolitan Transportation Agency plans to propose a ballot measure for November asking Los Angeles County residents to approve a half-cent sales tax and extend an existing tax, both of which would not expire until voters recall them.

The plan marks a sharp change from Metro's previous proposal on transportation funding. The transit agency earlier proposed a ballot measure that, if approved by two-thirds of county voters, would add a half-cent sales tax for 40 years and extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax by 18 years to raise $120 billion. 

Under the latest proposal, Metro will ask voters to approve a new half-cent sales tax and an extension of the Measure R tax. Both would live on until voters move to end them. As such, the total cost to taxpayers can't be readily calculated.

A long list of transportation projects would be funded with the money, and several proposed projects would be accelerated under the new plan by a combined 42 years. They include:

• Improvements to the Orange Line.

• A light rail line between downtown Los Angeles and Artesia.

• Widening of the 5 Freeway between the 605 and the 710.

• An extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

• The Green Line extension to Torrance.

• The Green Line extension to the Norwalk Metrolink station.

• Road improvements in Malibu.

• A bus rapid transit or light rail line on Lincoln Boulevard.

The proposal also calls for an upgrade to several plans for rapid bus service to rail lines: one along Vermont Avenue, another between North Hollywood and Pasadena, and one on Lincoln Boulevard.

The proposal, if adopted, would result in the fourth sales tax increase in L.A. County since 1980, bringing the base sales tax to 9.25 percent. But some cities in the county would be harder hit.

South Gate, La Mirada, and Pico Rivera already have among the highest sales tax rates in the county and the state at 10 percent. A hike for these cities would bring their sales taxes to among the highest levels in the country.

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