Ara Najarian: Let’s Get Along

The Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority held a workshop on Tuesday to pursue partnerships with the private sector in an attempt to accelerate construction of the Foothill Extension. While the focus of the day was all business for Authority CEO Habib Balian and the many firms present, our focus was on the keynote speech delivered by Metro Chairman Ara Najarian – and what a speech it was. The videos of the speech are posted below, but if you don’t have time to listen to a 12 minute speech (nobody blames you if you don’t), we’ve bullet-pointed the highlights for you.

Part 1 Part 2

Highlights from Ara’s keynote:

  • He was skeptical that Measure R would pass. He was also one of the opponents of Measure R at the time because of equity/lack of fair distribution of revenue. However, proponents get kudos for getting county to vote for Measure R.
  • Measure R will not only change the fabric of every community in the county, but it will also change how we, as a region, are perceived by the world.
  • In explaining the delay in passing the Long Range Transportation Plan, Ara noted that there was a lot of discord among the regions when he became Chair. He didn’t want to pass the LRTP with a 7-6 or 8-5 vote. He felt that would send the wrong signal to our county, Sacramento, and Washington.
  • They are working hard to get federal funding. Very few regions in the country have made the same kind of commitment to transportation funding. But other cities have done a great job lobbying Washington for money.
  • As the car culture center of the world, our county makes the best case for federal funding because we’re trying to get drivers out of their cars. If people start using the Foothill Extension, it should be a model for the rest of the country.
  • The Subway to the Sea and Regional Connector were chosen to apply for federal funding because they don’t have initial funding from Measure R.
  • There were forces inside Metro who wanted to kill the Gold Line Foothill Extension. But he has been trying to get everyone back together on the same page because we can’t succeed as a county if every sub-region only pushes their projects.
  • Our residents are committed to transit funding, and we need to sell that commitment to Washington.
  • Because the Foothill Extension will have several transit-oriented developments around its stations, there’s no reason why it can’t get HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funding as well. Would also get EPA benefits.
  • Ara will put pressure on Metro CEO Art Leahy to break ground on the Foothill Extension before his term as Chair ends on June 30, 2010. He wanted in on the fun of a groundbreaking.

For a breakdown of the workshop itself, the Pasadena Star-News has a report.

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