The following Guest Commentary appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on October 2, 2016.
In Measure M, L.A. County transit plan goes the distance this time: Guest commentary – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Michael D. Antonovich
October 2, 2016
It is vital that any ballot measure addressing our county’s transportation needs provides a comprehensive, regional solution to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Previous transportation measures were created from the top down and failed to guarantee a fair share for, or consider the needs of, Los Angeles County’s 88 cities and 134 unincorporated communities. Those measures also failed to develop a truly regional, interconnected transportation system.
Measure M, the “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan” corrects these failures.
In 2013, as chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, following the defeat of Measure J, I sent letters to each of the county’s 88 cities and their regional Councils of Government asking them to identify their local and regional transportation priorities. This set into motion a first-of-its-kind, bottoms-up approach to assess the transportation needs of our county, which was supported by subsequent Metro chairs, Diane DuBois, Eric Garcetti, Mark Ridley-Thomas and John Fasana. Hundreds of public meetings were held with the cities, community organizations, business groups, experts and advocates.
In contrast to previous measures, Measure M creates a regional transportation system which is fair to our county’s local communities because it was developed from the bottom up. It is subject to tough accountability measures with an oversight committee and annual audits posted online. Further, all funds generated are for local use only on transit projects in Los Angeles County — and cannot be siphoned away by the state.
Funding from Measure M will be used in each of our county’s 88 cities and unincorporated communities to repair and build new transportation infrastructure — from filling potholes to paving roads to synchronizing signals to improving intersections. Measure M will fix bottlenecks on freeways including the 5, 14, 405 and 605. Relieving traffic congestion, it will improve freight and goods movement by supporting the development of the High Desert Multi-purpose Corridor, upgrading Metrolink, enhancing passenger and freight rail corridors, and constructing critical grade separation projects.
Enhancing regional transit, it will extend the Gold Line through the San Gabriel Valley to Claremont, connecting with existing stations in Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. Dubbed the “Brain Train,” the Gold Line is connecting educational institutions including the Pasadena Arts Center, Cal Tech, Pasadena City College, Azusa Pacific University, La Verne University and the Claremont Colleges.
Measure M will also provide a vital connection between the Gold Line and the Red Line, from Pasadena to North Hollywood via Glendale and Burbank, on a dedicated bus line, which I proposed to further connect the county’s transportation system. It connects the San Fernando Valley to the Westside and will bring multiple lines to LAX. In addition, it will fund improvements to the Orange Line, ultimately transitioning to light rail, and build a 20-mile rail line from Downtown L.A. to Artesia.
Under the leadership of CEO Phil Washington, Metro will continue to be proactive and inclusive of the needs of our communities through the region and Measure M will provide the resources to meet those needs into the future. It will keep student, senior and disabled fares affordable while funding critical earthquake retrofits of our bridges and overpasses. It will also create over 465,000 jobs and has bipartisan support from labor, business, chambers of commerce and public officials.
On Nov. 8, Los Angeles County voters will have an opportunity to develop a comprehensive and interconnected transportation system which will relieve congestion and gridlock, improve air quality and quality of life for the residents of our County’s 88 cities and unincorporated communities. Measure M will modernize our aging transportation system and provide a 21st century transportation network which accelerates transit lines and ties them together into a comprehensive system with improved freeway and local road networks. Vote yes on Measure M.
Michael Antonovich is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District.