Saturday, February 10, 2007

Build The West Side Subway ASAP

Had Zev Yaroslavsky and Henry Waxman not gotten in the way, the subway out Wilshire Blvd. to the ocean would have been built by now, and the cost would have been quite a bit less than the $4.8 billion it is now projected to cost.

But it's too late to cry over spilt milk. The future of Los Angeles traffic, the economy, the overall well-being of Los Angelenos, require that it be built now as soon as possible.

Waxman, changing his mind, has gotten the House of Representatives to repeal the ban on federal funding, and the Senate and President Bush are expected to act soon, opening the way for a large share of the financing.

But Los Angeles should not wait for that. The funds exist now to plan the subway, so that when the repeals come forth, the city will be ready.

It shouldn't take 20 years to build this project, but it will, unless it is made the priority, a special manager is named for the project, and some kind of guarantee is made that when building begins, we won't have to rely on the inept Tutor-Saliba firm to do the building.

These days, when I ride the Red Line subway between downtown and the Valley, as I did just yesterday, it is always full of people. It's a project that has meant a lot to L.A. The West Side route will mean even more.

And it's important at the same time to expedite light rail -- the line to the southeast side, the Expo line to Culver City, and extension of the Green Line to LAX. Once that network is in place, a lot of people will be able to abandon their cars and use public transport.

This is truly a valuable project. The papers are behind it. There will never be a better time to get going.

In another matter, the L.A. Times "Current" section on Sunday gives space to one of the USC professors suspiciously against building rail systems. In this case, James Moore wries against proposals for a bullet train in California, linking Sacramento, the Bay Area and L.A. As I've written in the case of Moore's colleague Peter Gordon, these professors ought to be asked whether they have affiliations to the automobile and/or highway lobbies. They don't sound legit.

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