Prop. 1B would put almost $20 billion into transit work
Worsening traffic congestion and a long-neglected highway system have transportation officials salivating over a November ballot measure that would pump nearly $20 billion into roads and transit projects. Government and transit officials convened Monday to begin setting priorities for funding under Proposition 1B, part of a $37 billion bonds package proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It is fierce competition,” said Patrick DeChellis, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Public Works Department. “It’s the first time this money is made available in many years.” At the top of the city of Los Angeles’ wish list is $150 million to synchronize traffic signals to ease congestion. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsAnd while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hasn’t officially set priorities, the agency’s board in June allocated $10 million to study several unfunded projects, including the 14-mile extension of the newly named Purple Line, a connector between the Gold and Blue Line and an extension of the Long Beach Freeway. “This is going to be a watershed election for us in California,” said David Fleming, a former California Transportation Commission member and incoming chairman of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the meeting. “We know the electorate is full of doubt and suspicion when it comes to revenue bonds and ever more government borrowing.” A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 50 percent of voters were likely to support Proposition 1B, while 38 percent were opposed. “The bond will provide a dramatic boost to the city’s ability to improve road conditions and traffic flow and to provide viable public transportation alternative,” said Matt Szabo, an aide for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who lobbied hard to secure $1 billion in bond money for public transit in Los Angeles. But experts say the bond would merely be a “down payment” on a stressed infrastructure. “Twenty years ago we had congestion in only one direction of our freeways and it only lasted for one and a half to two hours. Today it is now in both directions and it lasts for six to seven hours,” said Doug Failing, district director for Caltrans. “This bond represents our chance to get this under control.” [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!