LA Metro Board Calls for $ 16.5 Billion in Transportation Infrastructure Investment – Streetsblog California
A new legislature begins today, and the California legislature is in a prolonged transitional state between redistribution, resignations and other personnel changes.
In general, however, it is already agreed that there will be a significant budget surplus again in 2022. How that will be spent or saved will be decided in the coming months, with Governor Newsom taking the first step when he presents his draft budget on January 10th.
The LA Metro board of directors doesn’t passively wait to see what happens. The board wrote a letter calling on area representatives in the legislature to support investments of $ 16.5 billion from the state’s surplus in transportation infrastructure. Your letter, which is on the agenda for the January 5th board meeting [PDF], contains a specific list of proposed investments in transit, active transport, high-speed trains and other infrastructures.
The budget surplus is a “golden opportunity” to improve these important projects in the region’s Long Range Transportation Plan, the letter says, and an opportunity to create an interconnected regional network of clean, sustainable travel opportunities.
The letter asks:
- US $ 10 billion for public transportation projects covering bus rapid transit / bus-only lanes across the county, metro expansions, transit corridors in the East San Fernando Valley, through Sepulveda Pass and in Inglewood, as well as required maintenance of the existing transportation network.
- 2.5 billion dollars for “Projects in support of the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games 2028”. Southern California’s goal is to “provide all ticketed spectators with access to the competition venues by public transport, on foot, or by bike.”
- Increased allocation of up to $ 500 million for the Active Transportation program. There’s a backlog of projects that did well but weren’t funded by the ATP – but $ 500 million isn’t much. The CTC itself has requested a $ 2 billion increase in the program, and given current state-level efforts to ensure the safety of people in transit, on foot, and on bikes, even that amount may now be far from enough .
The letter doesn’t say that much, but there could have been a $ 500 million allocation as early as 2021. Instead, that potential funding was blocked when the Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assembly Chairperson for Transport Laura Friedman closed negotiations on the funding of bullet trains (see here and here for more details).
- $ 1 billion for a new next-generation high-speed rail program in California. This is specifically a request for projects to support Metrolink in preparing for future high-speed rail connections.
- $ 1 billion in transit customer service, resilience, and fare reduction programs for rail and city bus systems, including things like lighting and shading for bus stops, and reduced and free fare programs.
- $ 1 billion for zero-emission buses.
- $ 500 million for the Trade Corridor Improvement Program, which could be used to address grade separation projects to accelerate freight traffic in Southern California.
The letter makes no mention of freeway improvements, although much of Metro’s freeway funds are provided through pre-approved state and federal funding programs. That means, it does not have to be begged like the transit financing.