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MTA Recovery Derails Valley Rail Line Plan

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a “recovery plan” to restore the agency’s standing with the federal government, wary of their finances.

But the plan decidedly put San Fernando Valley transportation projects on the back burner, pushing back the start of construction of the long-promised east-west Valley line from an original date of 2004 to 2007, or maybe even 2011. The plan did leave the door open to pursue a rail line through the private sector.

Now the MTA is facing opposition from local and state officials. City Council members from the San Fernando Valley are planning to block city funding of the agency and a state legislator wants to oppose a key loan from the state.

How fair was the MTA’s recovery plan to the San Fernando Valley?

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Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson:

“The Valley is getting screwed again. . . . We’re never going to get an east-west rail line if we have to rely on the MTA. . . . I think we have to take it away from the MTA. . . . We don’t need any subways and so instead of spending a lot of money through tunneling, we could use the existing right of ways, and just put in at-grade crossings and stations along the way. . . . It could be done with the Metrolink, with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich:

“The blind tunnel vision of the special interests for the $350 million-per-mile subways has led to a dead end. The sad part is that had the MTA bureaucrats listened to the people of the San Fernando Valley in 1990 when they voted 9 to 1 against the subway along Burbank-Chandler and for a freeway alignment, or the L.A. Times poll showing more than 50% of people against the subway, we would have an at-grade, freeway system that would be serving the people of the San Fernando Valley by the end of the decade.”

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Mel Wilson, president of the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors:

“It’s not fair to us at all. . . . I think the folks who work and live and reside in the San Fernando Valley ought to contact each and every one of their elected officials and insist that the San Fernando Valley has, at the minimum, enough money to make sure the environmental [documents] can be completed for an east-west rail line and there is enough money for engineering and final design. Without that, the Valley will never be in a position to receive state or federal funding. . . . We’re the home of the entertainment industry, and a lot of these companies will not stay.”

Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.:

“For 20 years the MTA has been studying rapid transit in the Valley and building rapid transit elsewhere. Once again they’re siphoning money that should go to construct Valley transit and giving it to Pasadena, East L.A. and other locations. We can’t attract businesses and we can’t open up streets and freeways unless we have a rapid transit system. . . . Valley residents and businesses have paid in sales tax over $1 billion for a rapid transit system and all we’ve gotten is a stub in North Hollywood.”


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