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A First Peek at L.A.’s Measure R2: Sales Taxes for Transportation

8:48 AM PDT on March 14, 2016

Earlier this afternoon, Los Angeles Times transportation reporter Laura Nelson reported on many of the details of the sales tax ballot measure that will be presented to Metro Board committees next week. With the approval of the Metro Board of Directors, the measure would go on this fall's ballot where it would need the support of two-thirds of L.A. County voters to take effect.

The measure would generate $120 billion over the next four decades to fund massive transit expansion and at least one very problematic highway project. The revenue stream would be created by two tweaks to the county sales tax: extending to 2050 the existing sales tax created by Measure R in 2008 and an additional half-cent sales tax, also extended until 2050. Those tweaks would increase the base sales tax in L.A. County to 9.5 cents, one of the highest in the country.

There's going to be a lot more media events, for a lot more rail station openings, if Metro and voters approve the sales tax plan outlined in the Times. Image: ##http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/03/05/metro-unveils-1-billion-gold-line-extension-through-san-gabriel-valley/##CBS2##
There's going to be a lot more media events, for a lot more rail station openings, if Metro and voters approve the sales tax plan outlined in the Times. Image: ##http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/03/05/metro-unveils-1-billion-gold-line-extension-through-san-gabriel-valley/##CBS2##

But the benefits are substantial: an extension of rapid transit to Santa Ana, the construction of the "Pink Line" (connecting the under-construction Crenshaw Line up to West Hollywood), a rail station at LAX, heavy rail under Vermont Avenue connecting the Purple Line to the Expo Line, and, finally, a reliable transit connection from the Valley to the Westside.

The Times has a more complete project list with descriptions, here.

The plan also sets aside billions of dollars for part of a public-private partnership to build a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass for a toll road. Conceivably, some large foreign financier is jumping at the chance to help pay for this tunnel in return for a portion of the tolls collected. The tunnel could be large enough to have rapid bus lanes or even light rail.

For me, this last part is certainly a bummer but not enough of a reason to vote against the sales tax. But that doesn't mean I'm ready to propose a Streetsblog endorsement of the measure, at least not until we see a complete project list and expenditure plans. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments section below.

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