A crowd at a Metro station. Photo from Metro Quality of Life Report
A crowd at a Metro station. Photo from Metro Quality of Life Report

While politicians continue to argue over allocations, voters will decide Nov. 8 whether they are willing to pay another half-cent sales tax to fund transit and transportation projects in car-centric Los Angeles County.

Measure M would add another half-cent transportation sales tax for county residents, on top of the existing half-cent Measure R sales tax already in place. When the Measure R tax expires on July 1, 2039, the Measure M tax would increase to one cent, and remain in place permanently.

The measure, if passed by two-thirds of voters, is expected to generate $120 billion over the first 40 years.

Some of the dozens of upgrades proposed under Measure M, dubbed the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, include:

— the Airport Metro Connector at Los Angeles International Airport;

— extending light rail lines throughout the county;

— adding rapid transit bus lines, including along the Vermont Corridor and Lincoln Boulevard;

— widening the Golden State (5), Santa Ana (5) and San Diego (405) freeways and widening or adding HOV lanes to many others;

— street repairs;

— a downtown streetcar project; and

— new bike paths and lanes.

Opponents of the measure — including the mayors of Norwalk, Beverly Hills and El Segundo, claim the tax would amount to a “blank check” for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with no accountability.

“Measure M postpones transportation projects for the blue-collar neighborhoods, but projects for affluent communities move to the front of the line,” according to a ballot argument submitted by opponents of the proposal. “MTA has a poor record of safety and a history of prioritizing wealthy communities, violating civil rights and disenfranchising the poor and the people of color who need effective transit the most.”

But the supporters, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, insist the measure will result in improvements in communities throughout the county, reducing traffic delay by 15 percent a day while creating 465,000 jobs and funding street repaving and pothole repair throughout the region.

“In 2015, the average driver on L.A. freeways spent 81 hours stuck in traffic,” proponents argue. “We can stop wasting time away from our families and jobs by making smart investments in both transit and roads.”

—City News Service

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