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Metro Board approves additional $3.29M for La Cañada sound walls

La Cañada Flintridge will receive nearly $3.29 million in additional funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build sound walls along the Foothill (210) Freeway, after the agency’s board of directors approved the appropriation Thursday.

News of the additional funding came about one week after state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) announced in an Oct. 16 meeting of the La Cañada City Council he’d worked with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger to help secure the funds.

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The appropriation helps pull the city out of a financial quandary it’s been in since this summer, when officials learned a $5-million grant for sound walls — secured by Portantino and approved by the California Transportation Commission under the SB-1 gas and vehicle registration tax — required La Cañada to put up equal matching funds.

Additionally, the $5 million could not be spent on pre-construction costs like design, which City Manager Mark Alexander estimated at $2 million.

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In their efforts to wrangle the $7 million needed, the City Council requested a 20-year advance on money due the city from Measure R (an earlier countywide sales tax that sunsets in 2039), for a lump sum of $3.71 million. That advance was also recently approved by Metro board members.

Thursday’s $3.29-million appropriation fills the matching fund gap, meaning the city will have a total of $12 million to spend on sound walls. However, it’s still unclear whether Proposition 6, an effort to repeal the SB-1 gas tax, would threaten the $7 million in Metro funding if voters approve it on Election Day.

“Sen. Portantino and Supervisor Barger believe if Prop. 6 passes, we’ll probably still be OK,” said Division Manager Ann Wilson. “We don’t think it will go away but no one is sure.”

In a release issued Thursday by the city, Mayor Terry Walker thanked Portantino and Barger for their efforts on the city’s behalf.

“The city of La Cañada Flintridge is very fortunate to have representatives who truly go to bat for our interests,” she said in the statement.

So far, the city has used previous Measure R funds to build three sound walls and design a fourth. Another 23 sound wall locations have been identified as needing to be built, at an estimated cost of about $40 million.

At the Oct. 16 council meeting, Portantino said the most recent appropriation was part of a larger effort he was working on to help secure future funds.

“This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when local, county and state officials work collaboratively to get needed infrastructure projects completed,” the senator said in Thursday’s statement.

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