With a decades long time horizon and massive investment, Measure M is set to improve the future of transportation throughout the LA basin.
By: Morgan Stephens
Considerable modifications in transit are expected to reach the bustling streets of Los Angeles and surrounding areas over the next several decades. After passing by a sweeping 71.2 percent margin on Nov. 9, Angelenos hope Measure M lives up to its promise to transform—and shorten—their daily commute.
The $180 billion project is set to take place over the span of 40 years. The measure’s revenue, generated from a 0.5 percent retail sales tax increase, will begin collection July 1, 2017, with an additional 1 percent increase after 2039. The objective of the Long Range Transportation Plan, or LRTP, is to invest in 38 railway, freeway and bus projects with emphasis on expanding the metro rail system and improving accessibility. The measure also intends to improve the way Angelenos commute by building additional carpool lanes, providing local street improvements, continuing highway maintenance, improving bicycle and pedestrian connections and improving accessibility for the disabled.
The expansive goal is to “ease traffic congestion by improving freeway traffic flow and reduce bottlenecks, expand the rail and rapid transit system by accelerating rail construction and building new lines, enhance local, regional, and express bus service, and improve system connectivity,” says Rick Jager, Metro spokesperson.
“Public transportation took a big step forward when LA County voters approved Measure M, a bold measure for infrastructure, air quality and quality of life,” Jager says. “Measure M’s goals [are about] providing LA County with more transportation options for current and future generations.”
Another key factor for the measure was transparency, which was heavily promoted as a campaign focus point during election season. Voters resounding approval of the bill established an independent taxpayer oversight committee to “protect and monitor the public’s investments through independent audits and oversight,” according to a statement on Metro’s website. The provision committee will meet quarterly to go over audits and hold annual public hearings to report the results and progression of the project.
$29.9 billion, the bulk of the investment, is allotted toward bus and railway options, then local street improvements are a close second priority at $22.5 billion. State of good repair, programs for students, seniors and the disabled as well as bicycle and pedestrian connections will each be given $2.4 billion, with regional railway (those lines that connect the LA basin to the outside) to see a $1.9 billion investment.
“Through the measure’s local return program, the 88 cities in [Los Angeles] county will be the first to receive additional monies to improve transit in their communities which could include improving neighborhood streets and intersections, and enhance bike and pedestrian connections and other transportation improvements,” Jager says.
With 10.2 million people in Los Angeles county, and projected to grow another 2.3 million in the next 40 years, traffic and air pollution with get worse with more growth. Measure M intends to generate enough revenue to meet the public’s growing need for better transit options designed to mitigate these inherent problems.
The advantages of Measure M aren’t simply for commuters, however. There are proposed economic benefits as well. The measure is expected to generate an estimated $860 million in 2017 dollars and add 465,690 jobs to California’s already growing economy, according to Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
The Gold Line, now spanning from Azusa and East LA, is already Pasadena’s link to downtown LA, and is expected to get another massive overhaul reaching all the way to the LA county border later this year. The project is set to extend 11 miles and add 5 stations from Citrus College station to the Claremont station, linking Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont.
“I look forward to more routes and more buses, especially because even a short trip with one transfer can take hours- almost as bad as sitting in traffic,” Mike Forest, a metro rider says, adding, “If the subways get wi-fi, that also would help a lot. I could stay productive.”
The East LA side of the Gold Line is expected to see changes as well with extensions starting at Atlantic Station. Two alignments are planned for construction, with one along the SR-60 to South El Monte and the other along Washington Boulevard to Whittier.
Yet another improvement Pasadena residents can expect to see is easier access to and from the San Fernando Valley, specifically the Bus Rapid Transit from North Hollywood to Pasadena. The Bus Rapid Transit project, which was originally passed in Dec. 2013, identified nine of the busiest corridors and created bus service in those areas that provided faster and more reliable service for commuters. A 15.3-mile BRT transit line from North Hollywood Orange/Red Line Rail Station to the Gold Line rail in Pasadena, utilizing dedicated bus lanes, and increased stop frequency at high volume locations, is set for construction. The project could be converted to a railway later “if ridership demand outgrows the rapid bus service capacity,” according to Metro’s website.
Los Angeles voters clearly revealed their desire for better transportation options, and their willingness to make the necessary investments to make that improvement happen. up to the public to remain diligent in holding those in charge of the massive project accountable while they eagerly await the changes they’ve been promised.
While the public will now eagerly await the promised change, diligence will be required in order to maintain accountability for the massive investment. Passing Measure M is but the first step forward.