UCLA group to present Metro with petition
Bruins for Traffic Relief urges board to approve funding of transportation projects.
After heavily advocating for the support of Measure R – the half-cent sales tax increase intended to compensate the improvement of Los Angeles County transportation – Bruins for Traffic Relief continues its attempt to eliminate traffic in Los Angeles.
The activist student organization will present a petition letter to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, also known as Metro, executive board today urging it to speedily approve the funding and construction of Los Angles County highway and transportation projects, said Misha Silin, external president and founder of Bruins for Traffic Relief.
“UCLA students should ensure that our interests are served,” Silin said. “We want (the board) to know that we are here and want to be considered in the funding.”
Measure R will provide funding for construction improvements and transit operations, which will include the launching of more Metro Rapid buses and vanpool programs as well as building a Metro Orange Line.
Through these programs, Metro seeks to reduce traffic congestion, speed up transit and relieve city pollution while stimulating jobs, said Marc Littman, director of public relations, in a Metro press statement.
The half-cent sales tax, which passed by less than a 1 percent margin in November, will be enforced beginning July 1, 2009, said Rick Jaeger, a Metro spokesman.
But the proceeds collected from the increase of the sales tax will not be redistributed until the end of the year. Measure R is expected to generate more than $40 billion and create 210,000 jobs during a 30-year period, Jaeger said.
Meanwhile, the Metro board of directors will meet today in an attempt to approve an environmental clearance contract, which will allow for the construction of the projects to begin, he added.
The Westside Subway Extension Project, which is expected to serve Century City and the Westwood/UCLA area, as well as the union of the Regional Light Rail Connector with the Blue and Gold Lines, are projected to benefit from the funding.
The project is seeking to add subway segments that will extend west of the Purple Line off the Wishire/Western stop, following Wilshire Boulevard. Another segment will be added north of the Red Line off the Hollywood/Highland stop, following Santa Monica Boulevard, according to the Metro Web site.
During the meeting, the city board will review the funds that Measure R will generate as it seeks to match the federal funding amount that the government requires. This match is needed for the government to cooperate in the construction of large-scale projects, Jaeger said.
“However, it will take a while to build as construction will not start for three to four years,” he said.
Jaeger said Metro will place a hold on some projects as it awaits for potential funding packages that the Obama administration could propose come February.
The first to notice the measure’s benefits will be the 88 cities in the Los Angeles County, including the city of Los Angeles, he said, because they will receive 15 percent in local returns of the taxpayer funds.
“City projects will kick off with street resurfacing, rehabilitation, pothole repairs, bikeways and the like,” Jaeger said.
In addition, he said that Measure R’s passing postponed for a year a Metro fare increase that was to take effect July 1, 2009, and froze fares for disabled persons, senior citizens and students.
Bruins for Traffic Relief, besides anticipating the installment of the Westside Subway Extension project, is working on serving the UCLA community by searching for transportation alternatives and encouraging people to join their cause.
The club is currently trying to instill a discount on bus tokens and endorse a candidate for the Fifth District City Council, Silin said.
Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009
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