GUEST WORDS - It took more than half a century, but this week marked the beginning of a new era as we broke ground on the first mass transit rail project to hit the Westside of Los Angeles since the Red Cars.
The Expo light rail line, which will run from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica beginning in 2015, offers people traveling to and from this jobs-rich and traffic-choked part of our county a real alternative to sitting and stewing in the gridlock that’s become an unfortunate way of life on the Westside for decades. Tens of thousands of commuters, residents and tourists stand to benefit every day.
To get a sense of the full sweep of what the 15.2-mile Expo Line will deliver, check out this map of the route. In the coming months, trains will start running in the line’s first segment, and construction will begin on Expo Phase 2, which will go from Culver City to 4th Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica.
When completed, we expect the Expo Line to be one of the busiest light rail lines in the country. And its downtown connections to Metro’s existing and future lines promise to magnify its significance across the region.
The good news doesn’t stop there; all of us will be breathing easier as a result of the car trips that this new light rail light line will help eliminate.
But the most immediate upside is this: Expo Phase 2, largely funded by the Measure R ½-cent sales tax overwhelmingly approved by county voters for transportation improvements, can start putting people back to work again.
New jobs, more than 9,000 of them, are being created. And those jobs have coattails, creating ancillary jobs and paychecks that in turn pump new life into struggling local businesses and services.
As job creation rightly assumes new urgency as Topic No. 1 in the national political dialogue, we’ve got news for our leaders in Washington and Sacramento: The solution to fixing our national economy can start right here in Los Angeles County.
The American Jobs Act, released by President Obama this week, includes nearly $3.4 billion for California transit and modernization projects, which the White House says could translate to at least 51,500 jobs here. But we can do more.
We have the projects—not just Expo Phase 2, on which we broke ground Monday, but the much-needed Westside Subway extension and others—that together can put 166,000 people back to work.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to tap future Measure R funds to jumpstart these local transit projects offers a clear way to get our economy moving in the right direction.
And that’s a train that officials at every level of government need to jump aboard now.
(Zev Yaroslavsky is Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Third District. He can be reached at zev.lacounty.gov) –cw
Tags: Expo, Expo line, Westside, Los Angeles, Red Cars, commuters, Culver City, Santa Monica, Expo Phase 2, Measure R, jobs, back to work, American Jobs Act, Mayor Villaraigosa
Vol 9 Issue 74
Pub: Sept 16, 2011