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Transportation LA: Wishing Well for 2012 (Part 1)

TOP 10 HOPES - As a tumultuous 2011 closes down, and as 2012 becomes more of a reality in our minds, it’s clear that 2011 was a controversial year of healthy debates and progress in transportation as we pursue a city, county, state and federal landscape that will create a first-class American economy for the 21st century.

Here are my Top Ten Hopes for Transportation in 2012:
One: Thanks to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and others on the LA County Metro Board, we have a pro-construction policy that will expedite light rail projects from Santa Monica to the Inland Empire, and from LAX to the Wilshire Corridor.  The I-405, I-5, I-605 and Inland Empire freeway projects are also being done simultaneously.  

My Hope is that Sacramento and Washington will reward LA County (which, after decades of dithering, is now a national example of transportation policy by voting to raise our taxes to get these projects properly budgeted and built) with bridge loans and matching funds.  And can this Congress pass a long-overdue renewal of a seven-year plan of federal transportation budgeting, now that the last Congress blew their chance to do it?   

Two: The I-405 widening, I-110/I-10 Congestion Plan projects, and the Expo Line are prime examples of how to properly and quickly communicate with constituents via e-mail blasts about ongoing progress, delays and meetings. 
My Hope is that these projects will be examples of how to do future projects in the City and County of LA; let’s see more government and contractor face-time with the taxpayers who are funding what should be a first-rate job.

Three: The EIR and/or construction processes continue to move along for the Expo, Crenshaw, Downtown Connector, Wilshire Corridor and Foothill Gold Lines, as well as for commercial rail, Metrolink, freeway and road projects.

Now that the Crenshaw Line EIR was passed by Metro, the time is now—RIGHT NOW!!!—to demand that LA World Airports expedite their own EIR to build a connecting LAX People Mover Rail System from the individual airport terminals at LAX to the Crenshaw Light Rail Line at Century/Aviation.  

Furthermore, with the EIR process starting to link the Green Line to the aforementioned People Mover, Century Blvd. destinations and Parking Lot C at Lincoln/Sepulveda, the need for LA World Airports (LAWA) to catch up and keep up is more urgent than ever.

Fine details and controversies are unpleasant but necessary issues to confront, but they are indeed being confronted for the Crenshaw, Downtown Light Rail Connector, Wilshire and Foothill Gold Lines.  The time for LAWA to take up these same issues, after promising a LAX People Mover for decades if Metro did its job, is RIGHT NOW, and it’s up to LAWA to decide if it’ll be a hero or a villain to the county and the entire SoCal region.

Four: We finally appeared to have a working partner in Washington, D.C.: President Obama clearly shows more love for transportation, our cities, and our economic centers than the past President—but does he and Congress recognize the need to spend it WELL?  

President Obama and the past Congress did not spend enough stimulus money on infrastructure, and when they did it was too often spent for politically-connected special interests, unions and contractors who do not appear to care about being cost-effective.

My Hope is that the competing priorities for federal tax dollars are spent more carefully, thereby creating more funds available for the infrastructure the nation is crying out for.  President Obama might play politics by blaming the GOP for failing to pass a second stimulus package, but he (and we) should recognize his own blame for not spending the first stimulus package well--and whether it’s this or the next President, we can all do better.

Five: Fix Sacramento politics and political correctness once and for all.

Like it or not, the ugly reality is that the money that should be going to education, colleges, police/fire, and transportation/infrastructure is going to unsustainable pensions and inefficient spending policies in our schools and other public sector priorities, and by a tax base that is getting smaller for a host of reasons.  We’re also not attracting higher-income American or foreign-born taxpayers to our state.

Governor Brown’s idea of increasing taxes on everyone via a sales tax, and with an increased surcharge on the very rich might make sense if the voters and taxpayers felt that it would be spent well…and if there was an accounting and correction of all the past fiscal improprieties that ex-Governor Schwarzenegger failed to correct.

My Hope is for better leadership in Sacramento:  asking the education lobby, the public sector and “immigration activists” to behave and respect the taxpayers is only fair, and to finally have the moral fortitude to budget FIRST the transportation/infrastructure needed to support our economy, our environment and our basic quality of life.

I wish all of Los Angeles a happier commute, and a Healthy and Happy New Year in 2012!

NOTE: Part 2 of this article will be posted Friday in CityWatch.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

Tags: Transportation, Los Angles, County, California, Sacramento, LAX, Wilshire Corridor, Crenshaw Line, President Obama, Mark Ridley-Thomas

Vol 9 Issue 103
Pub: Dec 27, 2011