MTA board endorses Villaraigosa's transit projects

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority today voted unanimously to back Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposal to build Measure R transportation projects in 10 years instead of 30.

Metro's Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse the so-called 30/10 initiative. The panel also agreed to accelerate the implementation of other transportation projects that would benefit Los Angeles County, including the Foothill Extension and the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

"I can't think of a better way to recognize Earth Day than by advancing these sustainable projects,'' Villaraigosa said.

Metro Directors Michael Antonovich, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Molina and John Fasana amended Villaraigosa's proposal to include not only the dozen Measure R projects, but others listed in Metro's Long Range Transportation Plan.

"Previously, (the 30/10 initiative) accelerated 12 transit projects -- but now it is balanced and equitable for the entire county,'' said Antonovich, who's also a county supervisor.

Measure R is the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters to build a dozen transportation projects over 30 years.

The 12 projects include the Orange Line Canoga Extension, which is already under construction; the Westside Subway Extension, which represents a portion of the so-called Subway to the Sea; and a regional connector that will link several light rail lines passing through downtown Los Angeles.

For months, Villaraigosa has been lobbying federal officials, as well as the business sector, for funding that would allow the projects to be built within a decade.

"A transit construction boom through 30/10 can jump-start the region's economic recovery and be a model for cities and states to invest locally in their infrastructure with federal support,'' Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa estimated that finishing the transportation projects in 10 years would create 165,000 construction jobs and at least 2,800 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.

The mayor also projected it would eliminate more than a half-million pounds of emissions; save 10.3 million gallons of gasoline; and add 77 million transit boardings during each year of that decade.

The complete list of Measure R projects, estimated to cost $18.5 billion, are:

About 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R in November 2008.