Metro calls on businesses to help speed along Measure M projects

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For those impatient to see the fruits of the Los Angeles County half-cent sales tax increase known as Measure M to fund billions of dollars in transportation projects, some good news.

Phil Washington, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO, said the transit agency is taking proposals under a private partnership program to accelerate three major projects:

Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor: A possible subway under the Sepulveda Pass that could finally offer a mass transit alternative to the dreaded 405 freeway. Under the current Measure M timeline, the project is slated to open in 2033 and is allocated $5.7 billion in Measure M revenue. A feasibility study is underway to estimate the cost for various options, from a heavy subway to an underground light rail.

West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor: A light rail connecting Artesia to downtown L.A. through the dense, transit-reliant neighborhoods of the Harbor Gateway area. The project has a price tag of $4.6 billion and was set to be completed in two phases by around 2045.

Express toll lanes: An expansion of the toll lanes to sections of the 105, 605 and 405 freeways that would amount to about $500 million but be offset by revenues.

L.A. County voters approved Measure M last November, setting the stage for a $120 billion infusion of transportation funds over 40 years.

Metro has promoted private partnerships as a way for the public to get more for its money, using business expertise to streamline the process and companies to absorb some of the risk.

But unlike public transit agencies, the private industry is driven by profit, which can leave taxpayers on the hook if an investment doesn't pay off.

Metro plans to review several different proposals before it moves forward on any project.

This request for proposals grew out of a Metro program to take unsolicited proposals from the private sector to collaborate on any of the agency's big, upcoming projects. After reviewing 75 proposals, the three projects were chosen as the most promising to pursue.

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