The Metro Board of Directors’ monthly board meeting took place yesterday – and while the San Gabriel Valley residents, business community and elected officials showed up with enthusiasm, many ended up leaving half-way through the meeting with that feeling that’s the opposite of enthusiasm (pick any antonym).
If people were to assume that Measure R was passed to primarily fund light-rail projects, they’d be partially right. The biggest transit discussion that’s been going on since Measure R had passed had been on the Subway to the Sea, Gold Line, Expo Line, Green Line, regional connector, etc. – so much discussion that, despite the Long Range Transportation Plan workshops and focus on Measure R at previous Board meetings, the highway plans that were also a part of the voter-approved Measure R were apparently lost in the mix. According to the Pasadena Star-News, “75 of 88 county cities registered complaints about the fact that the plan would not estimate an end date for construction on numerous [highway] projects that will be funded by Measure R.” So because Metro hasn’t had the time to thoroughly discuss and analyze the highway plans, the vote on the LRTP – which sets the funding and construction timelines for projects under Metro’s control – has been delayed once again. This time, for another month or two.
While a delay on finalizing the LRTP isn’t anything new, it definitely seems to be taking its toll, not just with the public, but with the Metro Board of Directors themselves. Richard Katz remarked, “MTA never fails to miss an opportunity to delay… we ought to be working around the clock to get it done by August.” If a vote does happen in August, as Streetsblog LA points out, it would happen at a special workshop on August 13 – seeing as how there is no regular board meeting scheduled for that month. This would give Metro approximately three weeks to complete a thorough discussion of the highway plans and then a final vote on the LRTP. Not to say anything about the abilities of the Metro staff, but three weeks seems a bit (just a bit) optimistic for any staff of any abilities with a plan of this magnitude. Metro staffers themselves thought it would be difficult to be ready for the Aug. 13 meeting. And then, there’s the politics. So our best bet would be September.
If you’re in the San Gabriel Valley and you’re feeling a bit letdown – our advice is: don’t. Remember, the Gold Line Foothill Extension is slated to receive the $875 million in funding in the latest version of the Long Range Transportation Plan toward construction of the line to Azusa. Our last remaining goal is to have Metro change the operational date of that line from 2017 to 2013. Maybe this can be achieved by September?
For blow-by-blow coverage of yesterday’s meeting, you can revisit our Twitter feed @iwillride. If you’d like a breakdown of the other topics discussed at the meeting, Streetsblog LA has an extensive write-up on some other loud issues that were also taking center-stage.