Take a look at the congested freeways that wind through Los Angeles County. Motorists sit for hours to move a few miles during the morning commute. The agony continues on the way home. Even the weekends can be unbearable sometimes. That's why Los Angeles County voters should say 'yes' to Measure J, an extension of Measure R in 2008 that will expedite an array of highway and light-rail improvements - and do it for far less money.
Measure J would continue the half-cent sales tax through 2069, allowing the county to speed up critical projects and take advantage of low interest rates and construction costs.
As one proponent said, 'It's acceleration on steroids.'
Measure J comes at a challenging time with so many other bond and tax issues competing for the attention of voters in November. But this is not a new tax. Saying no wouldn't stop the 2008 sales tax or any of its transportation projects.
In its favor, voters can already see the fruits of Measure R, which has produced tangible results in fewer than four years: The Crenshaw and Exposition rail lines and the Orange Line bus lane extensions, to name a few examples.
Future voters should be footing some of the bill for transportation projects that they will benefit from by paying a mere 50 cents on every $100 spent in the county through 2069. That leverage would allow current taxpayers the ability to see some of the projects come to fruition and actually enjoy the benefits now.
For example, the Green Line — which abruptly ends in an obscure area of Redondo Beach — would be extended farther down into the South Bay by 2020, a full 15 years earlier than initially promised.
The Gold Line eastside extension into San Bernardino County would be completed by 2022, which is 13 years earlier than projected. Several highway projects throughout the region would also be accelerated, aimed at improving capacity on traditionally congested arteries such as the 405, 605 and 110 freeways.
Opponents incorrectly claim that Measure J gets rid of some of the protections that prevent money grabs from one project to another - specifically to support Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's pet project known as the "Subway to the Sea." That's not true.
An amendment by Duarte Councilman John Fasana - a former opponent of this tax who has since converted - prohibits these funds from being transferred from one region for another.
For example, money earmarked for highway projects in the San Gabriel Valley could be reallocated to the Gold Line rail line extension - but not for a subway extension into the Westside of Los Angeles. Projects slated for the South Bay, the San Fernando Valley and other areas of Los Angeles County are similarly protected, thanks to Fasana.
Another gripe is that this is just too soon. But that can be fixed by future taxpayers. If this sales tax doesn't make sense 25, 30 or even 50 years from now then it can be reprogrammed to include new projects that we might not be able to foresee as the region's transportation needs evolve. Future voters - our children and grandchildren - can even opt to end it through a referendum.
By voting for Measure R four years ago, Los Angeles County voters showed they would do just about anything to ease the daily grind of traffic congestion during their commutes.
Voters can - and must - speed along the progress of transportation projects aimed at making their lives a little easier by voting in favor of Measure J on Nov. 6.
Read it in the Daily News.