Los Angeles County officials are expected to provide $65 million for transportation projects in the northern part of the county, but some San Fernando Valley elected officials think the Valley is being shortchanged.
The County Transportation Commission, which allocates money for city, county and state transportation programs, is expected to approve $307.7 million next week for 135 projects in the county, disbursing money from federal grants and local sales taxes.
About $65 million of that is expected to go to projects in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. But some elected officials from the San Fernando Valley said Tuesday they are disappointed that projects proposed by the city of Los Angeles are recommended to receive only about $30 million, about half of which would be spent in the Valley.
Francine Oschin, transportation deputy for Councilman Hal Bernson, said she is disappointed because "a lion's share" of the transportation tax dollars come from city residents but will not be spent on city projects.
"I think the city did not do well overall on that list," she said. "The Valley is getting a drop in the bucket."
She added, however, that many projects proposed by other agencies will benefit Valley residents.
Rosalind Wayman, Valley deputy for Councilman Marvin Braude, said she was also disappointed by the recommendations. But she said she is happy that some Valley projects, such as park-and-ride lots in Encino and Van Nuys, are recommended for funding.
"Yes, we are disappointed that the Valley was not chosen often in this round, but let's make sure we get it for the next round," she said. "There wasn't a whole lot of specific Valley things that were proposed."
The staff of the county Transportation Commission is recommending funding for 24 projects in the northern part of the county, including car-pool lanes, park-and-ride lots, bicycle paths, bus expansion programs and computer systems that adjust traffic signals to improve traffic flow on city streets. Staff workers say the commission will almost certainly accept the recommendations.
The funds come from a 1991 federal transportation act that provided the county $104.3 million this year, and by Proposition C, a half-cent sales tax surcharge approved by voters in 1990 that generated $203.4 million for the county this year.
Proposition C funds have been unavailable to county transportation officials because of a lawsuit brought by members of the Libertarian Party of California. They contended that the measure--approved by a bare 50.4% majority--should be struck down because it lacked the two-thirds approval required by Proposition 13 and other measures. But the state Supreme Court in May upheld Proposition C, freeing $400 million a year for transportation programs statewide.
Rosa Kortizija, transportation deputy for Supervisor Mike Antonovich, said she is pleased with the funding recommendations on projects in the Antelope Valley. She is particularly happy, she said, about the $1.8 million recommended to help pay for eight buses that would be added to a commuter service from the Antelope Valley to downtown Los Angeles.
But she said she understands that some officials would be upset because there is not enough money to fund all the proposed projects.
"It's not going to please everyone, but those involved in ranking and recommending the projects feel it was a pretty decent compromise," Kortizija said.
Nikolas Patsaouras, a San Fernando Valley resident and member of the Southern California Rapid Transit Board of Commissioners, said he is happy with the proposals, especially with a recommendation to spend $300,000 to restructure current bus routes and other transit programs to better serve Valley residents.
"The restructuring study will be the first in the county," he said. "No, we are not shortchanged."
County transportation officials said it was not easy to decide which projects to recommend. State, city and county agencies and other transit agencies requested $1.3 billion for 647 projects. The county transportation staff spent the past two months narrowing that to $307.7 million for 135 projects.
Applicants were invited last month to testify on the merits of their projects before a special subcommittee representing cities and transportation agencies throughout the county. But only about 20 applicants testified.
Neil Peterson, executive director of the county Transportation Commission, defended the selection process, saying representatives of cities and transportation agencies had their say.
"You are obviously going to have a lot more people unhappy than happy," he said. "Clearly, we would have liked to have done more, but that's just the nature of the beast."
Peterson added that he is chairman of a national organization of transportation officials that helped get changes in the federal funding law--called the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act--to increase funding and allow local officials more flexibility in spending the money.
On many projects, the funding will pay only part of the costs. The applicants will either provide matching funds or will apply for grants from other transportation agencies to pay the balance.
The largest amount recommended for a San Fernando Valley project is $18.5 million. It would be spent by the county on final design, property acquisition and construction of the 6.3-mile Metro Red Line extension between a station in Hollywood, on the corner of Hollywood and Vine boulevards, and a station in North Hollywood. The county's Rail Construction Corp. is expected to provide the remaining $65.5 million.
County transportation officials have also recommended spending about $21 million on three car-pool projects in the Valley. The total cost of the three projects to the California Department of Transportation would be $41.6 million.
Car-pool lanes would be built in both directions on the Hollywood Freeway from the Ventura Freeway to the Golden State Freeway, on the Ventura Freeway from the Hollywood Freeway to the Golden State Freeway, and on the San Diego Freeway from the Golden State Freeway to the Ventura Freeway.
Top 10 Projects These are the 10 projects proposed for the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys that would receive the largest amounts of funding:
* Red Line extension--$18.5 million for final design, property acquisition and construction of the 6.3-mile Metro Red Line extension between a station at Hollywood and Vine boulevards and a station in North Hollywood.
* Hollywood Freeway car-pool lanes--$13.45 million to create car-pool lanes in both directions on the Hollywood Freeway from Ventura Freeway to the Golden State Freeway.
* Computerized traffic signals--$10.8 million to install a computer system for synchronizing traffic signals at all intersections between Victory Boulevard on the north, Ventura Boulevard on the south, the city of Burbank on the east and Valley Circle Boulevard on the west.
* Ventura Freeway car-pool lanes--$5 million to create car-pool lanes in both directions on the Ventura Freeway from the Hollywood Freeway to the Golden State Freeway.
* San Diego Freeway car-pool lanes--$2.5 million to create car-pool lanes in both directions on the San Diego Freeway from the Golden State Freeway to the Ventura Freeway.
* Antelope Valley commuter buses--$1.8 million to help the Antelope Valley Transit Authority pay for eight buses to expand commuter service to downtown Los Angeles.
* Hollywood Way improvements--$1.7 million to Burbank for road improvements on Hollywood Way from the Ventura Freeway to the Burbank Airport and to install a computer system that would synchronize traffic signals.
* Santa Clarita Park-and-Ride--$1.68 million to help purchase property and build a 600-space park-and-ride lot near the Antelope Valley Freeway at San Fernando Road near the city of Santa Clarita.
* Soledad Canyon Bridge widening--$1.25 million to Santa Clarita to widen a bridge on Soledad Canyon Road west of Camp Plenty Road to accommodate three lanes in each direction.
* Santa Clarita River Bikeway--$1.05 million to Santa Clarita to build a 5-mile segment of the proposed Santa Clara River Bikeway, running from the Golden State Freeway to Shadow Pines Boulevard.