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Metro gets its first round of private partnership proposals to accelerate big projects

FILE: Metro breaks ground on the Regional Connector in downtown Los Angeles. New proposals for private partnerships could help speed construction of future rail projects.
FILE: Metro breaks ground on the Regional Connector in downtown Los Angeles. New proposals for private partnerships could help speed construction of future rail projects.
Steve Hymon/Metro

About a month before voters decide on Measure M, a sales tax increase to fund transportation projects, Los Angeles County's transit agency has announced new, potential private partnerships that would accelerate construction of some big projects included in the initiative.

Last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched a program inviting private companies to propose partnerships with Metro. The public-private partnerships are intended to speed up construction of major projects with an infusion of private investment, expertise and shared risk.

Metro now says the first major proposal has moved through its initial review process. Details about Parker Infrastructure Partner's proposal are still scant due to confidentiality guidelines, according to Metro officials. But they did say "the approach offers a chance to deliver multiple Measure M projects sooner than anticipated."

To complement the program, called P3, Metro has also launched an effort to make more projects "shovel ready" should unanticipated funds become available through a private partnership. "Shovel ready" means completing initial environmental reviews, feasibility studies and design work for projects seen as likely to attract funders' interest, like an extension of the Crenshaw line north to West Hollywood.

The agency has received about 50 unsolicited proposals so far, according to Joshua Schank, Metro's chief innovation officer. Several have the potential to speed up specific Measure M projects, including the West Santa Ana Branch light rail connecting Artesia to downtown L.A. and the Purple Line subway to Westwood.

Metro cautioned that the proposals depend on approval of Measure M, which would produce the revenue stream needed to move the projects and private partnerships forward.

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