Another day, another Sig Alert. It seems this is the place we have come to in Los Angeles. Just look at some recent headlines: “405 Crash Shuts Down Freeway, Causing Traffic Nightmare,” “134 Closure: Overturned Gasoline Tanker Shuts Down L.A. Freeway” and my personal favorite, “Puppet Shows for L.A.’s Congested Freeways.”

What has to happen in this town before there is a groundswell of public and business community support for mass transit, and more of us give up driving alone to work at least some of the time? Well, perhaps we have arrived at that station in the form of the ambitious but possible 30/10 Initiative to build 30 years of critically needed transportation projects within a decade.

Thirty/10 will let the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority use revenue from the 2008 county voter-approved Measure R half-cent transportation sales tax as collateral for long-term bonds and a federal loan to build 12 overdue projects now instead of later. Accelerating construction of the Westside subway, the Gold Line Foothill extension, the Green Line to the Los Angeles International Airport, a north-south San Fernando Valley line, the downtown L.A. regional connector and several other key projects will mean substantial construction and financing savings, and give commuters a fast, low-cost alternative to the freeway. For the first time, a true mass-transit system of which the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce can be proud will be within reach. And in addition to the transit it will provide, 30/10 will create more than 165,000 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a region that still has a long way to go both in terms of employment and air quality.

Now all we need to do is convince the federal government to step up and loan us the money to start building.

A better way

On those rare occasions when there’s no one else on the road, I like taking the curves along Mulholland Drive a little too fast as much as the next guy. But I also recognize there has to be a better way, aside from retirement, than driving alone to work. We have a traffic problem in this town and building more lanes on the freeways is simply not the solution. If it was, then all of the earlier freeway-widening projects would have solved things. Thirty/10 brings a real mass-transit system to the town that Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick famously called “a great big freeway.”

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