To the editor: Thank you for exposing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's poor management of the 405 Freeway widening project, resulting in a $300-million settlement and a 55% cost overrun. ("'Lessons learned': Metro will pay nearly $300 million more to company that widened the 405 Freeway," Nov. 28)
As a member of Metro's Community Advisory Committee for the project, I experienced the agency's management failures firsthand and developed deep concerns about its capabilities to effectively manage major projects. These concerns and other problems with Metro's planning and oversight capabilities led the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., of which I am a board member, to oppose the Measure M sales tax increase for transportation projects, instead advocating two more years for Metro to get its act together.
But Measure M passed and Metro is now entrusted with more than $3 billion of sales tax revenue annually for eternity. Let us hope that Metro has indeed learned some lessons from its mistakes.
Bob Anderson, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: Indeed, a $300-million settlement should be a costly lesson learned, but will it be for Metro and the California Department of Transportation?
The first lesson would be to actually get an accurate cost estimate on mega projects that are notorious, all over the world, for going over budget by huge percentages before moving forward. Example: Depending on the agency doing the estimating, the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel will cost $5.65 billion or $11.8 billion to build. I think there's a problem here.
L.A. County voters handed Metro a gift of $120 billion over the next 40 years. We must do more than just hope that the Metro board learned a lesson from the 405 debacle. The agency must work to gain our trust that it will plan responsibly and work on projects that will actually increase mobility rather than ones that have just been on the books for a long time.
Joanne Nuckols, South Pasadena
To the editor: The article states that adding the costly carpool lane to the 405 "has not significantly changed traffic flow."
Still, we have many professors of urban planning lecturing us that it is passenger rail that does not work. Let's file this under "cognitive dissonance."
Jon Hartmann, Los Angeles