Los Angeles County is a large and diverse region with more than 10 million residents in 89 local jurisdictions. Due to its size and complexity, nine geographic subregions have been identified for transportation planning and investment purposes. Some subregions are represented by Councils of Governments (COG). The COGs vary in structure, but all consist of the area’s local government representatives (city council members, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and/or other public agencies) and share the goal of cooperatively addressing subregional priorities and matters of mutual interest. For an overview of Los Angeles County Council of Governments and Subregions click here and read the notes from the November 2015 Investing in Place COG Forum here.
In December, the Metro board adopted performance metrics (see our response) to evaluate projects submitted by each subregion for consideration in the ballot measure expenditure plan. At that time, Investing in Place weighed in to guide the discussion toward ensuring that the overall expenditure plan creates a regional transportation system that is accessible, reliable, safe, and equitable. Metro’s draft expenditure plan and performance analysis won’t be available until next month, but here’s a preview of the types of projects recommended for funding by each COG for their subregion.
For discussion purposes, Metro planning staff made an early assumption that the expenditure plan would be divided evenly between new capital projects and operations/local return. In current dollars, this made available $23.4 billion for new capital projects across the county. Metro’s ballot measure planning process involved soliciting priorities from each COG for the capital half of the expenditure plan. Each COG created a “mobility matrix” of all transportation needs in their subregion, and then prioritized projects from that matrix to match their expenditure target based on Metro’s population and employment formula. Expenditure targets ranged from $296 million for the smallest subregion, Las Virgenes-Malibu, to $4.1 billion for the largest, the Gateway Cities.
If the COGs had final say over Metro’s potential 2016 ballot measure, the expenditure plan would look like this.
Most COGs developed balanced priorities, with more centrally located subregions prioritizing transit and outlying COGs investing in highway capacity. Almost all COGs allocated significant percentages to active transportation, reflecting broad consensus on the importance of walking, biking, and safe routes to school to the region’s future. In current dollars, the COGs prioritized a total of $12.7 billion for new transit projects, $7.2 billion for highway projects, and $3.1 billion for active transportation.
While the COGs’ priorities, collectively, are encouraging, some subregions have been reluctant to embrace recent priorities like walking, biking, and safe routes to school. In particular, the Gateway Cities COG dedicated zero dollars for active transportation, despite Metro’s new report documenting between $11.0 and $30 billion in needed active transportation funding over the next 20 years.
The Gateway Cities COG is expected to discuss this issue and consider revising their funding priorities at their next board meeting on Wednesday, February 3rd, at 6:00 p.m. COG board meetings are held at their offices at 16401 Paramount Blvd, Paramount, CA 90723. For more information, check out this blog post by our partners at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC).
The South Bay Cities COG took a more nuanced approach by creating a program for local mobility solutions with broad eligibility for investments in technology (e.g. connected and/or autonomous vehicles), transportation demand management, land use strategies, first/last mile, and active transportation. While these strategies are all valuable, the best practice is to provide a basic amount of dedicated funding for active transportation, in addition to eligibility in other programs. Both the Gateway Cities and South Bay Cities have state-designated disadvantaged communities with adopted bike and/or pedestrian plans that are ready for implementation, if only their subregions would choose to make these investments.
Below is a breakdown of priorities by mode for each subregion. Projects were classified by their primary purpose. Transit includes bus, bus rapid transit, light rail, subway, and station facilities (e.g. park-and-ride). Highway includes freeway and arterial projects intended to reduce vehicle delay, including capacity expansion, interchange improvements, Express Lanes, and signal synchronization. Active transportation includes first/last mile, mobility hubs, safe routes to school, sidewalks, bike paths, streetscape improvements, complete streets, and education/encouragement programs. The Arroyo Verdugo COG left a portion of their expenditure target unprogrammed. South Bay Cities COG allocated funding to a program with broad eligibility, described above, that does not fit neatly into one modal category. For a complete list of each subregion’s project and program priorities, click here.