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Sales-tax measure threatens Gold Line

MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH

Our county’s new Gold Line rail system is successfully playing a

vital role in the realization of our county’s regional transit plan.

However, a ballot measure by Gov. Gray Davis to raise the sales tax

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by a half-cent for the budget-busting subway threatens this plan.

The Gold Line can be expanded by utilizing existing freeway

medians and abandoned railroad rights-of-way for a comprehensive

at-grade and aboveground rail system. This would link Los Angeles

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County commuters throughout the region to the Ventura County and San

Bernardino County lines.

Combined with a multi-modal transportation system of buses,

commuter rail and highway/street improvements, the Gold Line will

improve productivity, reduce air pollution and increase mobility for

our citizens.

Unlike the $5-billion, 17-mile, gold-plated subway, which took

decades to build, the first phase of the nearly 14-mile Gold Line was

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built in a few years for approximately $725 million.

At a cost of $1.2 billion, Phase II will connect the Gold Line to

San Bernardino County and run an additional 24 miles from Pasadena to

Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, Azusa, Glendora, San Dimas, La

Verne, Pomona and Claremont, and could be completed in five years, if

funding was available.

As planning continues on Phase II, we also need to aggressively

work to extend the Gold Line west, with Phases III and IV, through

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the San Fernando Valley by connecting the Marengo station in

Pasadena along the 210 and 134 freeways through Glendale to the

Media Center in Burbank with a spur connecting to the Red Line

station in North Hollywood. A Phase IV could be extended along the

101 Freeway corridor to Ventura County. The construction for this

project could be done with less disruption to neighboring residents

and taxpayer pocketbooks.

The vision for a regional rail system serving the entire county --

not just the city of Los Angeles -- is beginning to come into focus,

with the Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley in our sights.

However, the proposed half-cent tax increase ballot measure is a

deceptively attractive package wrapped with smaller transit projects,

to con county taxpayers into paying for a nearly $1-billion, 3-mile

subway extension in the Fairfax district. Vital resources would be

siphoned away from cost-effective projects that give county commuters

and taxpayers more bang for the buck.

Proposed by tunnel-vision vested interests, this measure violates

the law approved by Los Angeles County taxpayers, who overwhelmingly

voted to prohibit further subway construction. This Sacramento ballot

proposal needs to be defeated if Los Angeles County is to implement

cost-effective transit strategies. Our efforts need to be focused on

decreasing congestion, improving air quality, increasing mobility and

enhancing the quality of life for our citizens with cost-effective

transit.

* MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH represents the 5th District, which

includes Burbank, on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He

can be reached at

(213) 974-555 or at fifthdistrict @bos.co.la.ca.us.


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