Patt Morrison for November 10, 2011

Villaraigosa plans to speed up road retouching with borrowed funds

LA Mayor And Sen. Boxer Hold News Conference Asking Congress To Pass Legislation Funding Road Projects

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks as U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and state and city officials listen on an industrial street with broken pavement, October, 2011.

Driving in Los Angeles is not for the faint of heart, and it's not just traffic that's the problem. Gaping potholes abound in the city streets, and as frightening as they are at 20 miles an hour, they're worse when encountered on the highways, where they’re also prone to making appearances.

With his L.A. Road Works project, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is looking to change the situation — and change it quickly — but in order to do so he will have to borrow as much as $800 million from the city’s Measure R funds, a half-cent county sales tax set to expire in 2039.

The Measure R funds are specifically designated for transportation, but $800 million is nearly half Measure R's total projected revenue, which has some council members nervous, including Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who stated, "People should be fully aware that [L.A.'s share of] the Measure R money is effectively gone after this current project is done," he said.

The mayor's office has pointed out that they have no intention of touching the $600 million of Measure R funds earmarked for bicycle, pedestrian, and other city transportation projects; they also argue that it will cost them more to do fewer repairs if they wait.

WEIGH IN:

The original text of Measure R promised that the funds would be used for “projects such as pothole repairs, major street resurfacing, left-turn signals, bikeways, pedestrian improvements, streetscapes, traffic signal synchronization and local transit services”—but will borrowing against this money now add an unfair burden on the next generation of taxpayers?

Guest:

Chris Thornberg, principal at Beacon Economics


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