Los Angeles County voters agreed in 2008 to raise sales taxes to fund massive upgrades in transportation. The benefit of that ballot initiative – dubbed Measure R – was clear: Construction jobs would multiply and businesses would flourish along new rail lines as well as highways and Los Angeles County would see $40 billion in transportation projects across the region over a 30-year period.

Measure R’s overwhelming passage was a public vote of confidence in transportation investments. Now it’s time to give the public a quicker and more potent return on its investment. We have an opportunity to embrace the 30/10 Infrastructure Sustainability Initiative introduced and championed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his team.

The 30/10 proposal is a way to achieve 30 years of transportation improvements in 10 years. Rather than waiting a generation for economic and quality-of-life gains to materialize, 30/10 would allow us to reap benefits in a decade.

By borrowing money to accelerate transportation projects, 30/10 could provide an extra 20 years of reduced car traffic and emissions, while jump-starting the economy in a time of great need.

The federal government would support financing the cost of Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s long-range transportation projects. Projects could be finished in 10 years, while the loans are repaid over 30 years. The financing plan’s risk would be negligible, since the sales tax increase to pay for Measure R has already been approved. In fact, that steady tax stream would ensure loan payments are made on schedule.

The 30/10 proposal is already under discussion in Washington and will come to the full Metro board this week. Under this proposal, Metro will be able to move forward immediately with final approvals, design and construction of long-anticipated projects, generating more than 100,000 jobs.

These projects include the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, providing service to the corner of Century and Aviation boulevards at Los Angeles International Airport, and the Purple Line train from Union Station to Westwood. Another top priority would be the highly efficient Regional Connector in downtown Los Angeles, which would link currently disconnected rail lines.

Economic boost

These projects, up to 12 in all, would pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. They would create jobs in the neighborhoods they serve through a carefully targeted local-hiring policy. Even more timely, a local and small business hiring policy would create contracting opportunities and significant economic development stimulus for transit-oriented districts around station sites.

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