LA County Touts $120B Mass Transit Plan

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – LA’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to release a detailed proposal for expanding rail service and improving other forms of transportation throughout Los Angeles County as part of a $120 billion ballot measure, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
     The plan is likely to include new light-rail lines around the San Fernando Valley and southeastern LA County, a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass that could accommodate a toll road and a passenger rail line, and improved bus service, according two officials who were aware of the plan but not authorized to speak publicly.
     If voters pass the measure, the plan calls for roughly 1/3 of the $120 billion to be allocated into full or partial funding of five new transit lines and six or more extensions to current lines, or ones that are under construction.
     Funding for the proposal would come from extending a current half-cent sales tax for two more decades and raising the county’s sales tax rate by an additional half-cent for 40 years or more. The measure needs a two-thirds majority to pass, and would raise LA County’s base sales tax rate to 9.5 percent.
     The plan includes transit perks for far-reaching communities, indicating an effort to sell the entire county on the tax increases. Aspects of the plan may take more than 15 years to complete, however.
     LA County’s infamous gridlock has prompted efforts to engineer solutions to ease traffic issues, which had been made worse due to the county’s delayed development of a modern rail system. The system was created decades after many other major cities had built their rail lines.
     Many of the details are still being resolved, so adjustments may still be made.
     Critics have pointed out that MTA has in the past had difficulty managing its budget, and that the use of public transit has dwindled in recent years.

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