Villaraigosa to tout early work on Westside subway construction
As vote-counting continued for a transit tax measure that appeared to be headed to defeat, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sought Wednesday to shift public attention to the first stages of construction on a long-promised Westside subway.
Villaraigosa, along with other elected officials and transportation leaders, is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon announcing that utility crews will soon begin relocating telecommunication lines in advance of excavations near the future Wilshire/La Brea subway station.
Villaraigosa has championed the 9-mile, $6.3-billion subway line along the Wilshire Boulevard corridor and Measure J, a half-cent sale tax extension on this month's ballot, was part of his campaign to speed up construction. The subway is heavily funded by a half-cent sale tax approved voters in 2008 that is projected to raise approximately $36 billion over 30 years. Measure J would extend that tax an additional 30 years, allowing officials to borrow against future tax revenues to accelerate completion of several transit projects, including the Westside subway, in the next 10 years.
With several hundred thousand provisional ballots remaining to be counted, Measure J is just short of the two-thirds majority necessary to pass, so far collecting 64.64% of the vote.
If Measure J passes, Villaraigosa might be in position to announce a stepped-up construction schedule for the subway extension, which he considers a major part of his legacy in office.
If Measure J fails, Villaraigosa has said he will keep exploring ways to accelerate construction of the subway and other projects.
The subway is currently scheduled to be finished in three phases. The entire 9-mile extension from Western Avenue to the Veterans Administration hospital in West L.A. won't be fully operational until 2035, according to current forecasts on Metro's website.
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- Ari Bloomekatz
Photo: The new Westside rail extension will begin at the Wilshire Western station. It will end near the Veterans Administration hospital and Wilshire Boulevard. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times