I think new Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a lot in common with ASU President Michael Crowe when it comes to taxing and spending for huge projects. Maybe the two should have a talk to come up with how to waste the money of the people in Arizona and California!


A costly pipe dream There are better ways to spend $5 billion than on another subway.

Only months ago, the idea of building a subway from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica fell into the category of phantasmagoric ideas from the past that would disintegrate once exposed to the light of reality. Besides the worry about pockets of explosive methane gas under the proposed route, residents of the affected neighborhoods just didn't want Wilshire Boulevard tied up for so long. And after the wastefulness in building L.A.'s Subway to Nowhere, taxpayers of Los Angeles County believed they had driven a stake into the heart of this nightmare by banning the use of public money for any more underground tunnels.

Astonishingly, the subway Dracula has found new life, and is ready again to suck the blood of the public treasury. Thanks to political friendships and commitments, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has developed, along the way to fame and position, a fantasy about wasting billions more on a subway for a few rather than public transit that serves the many.

One such friend, long-time Congressman Henry Waxman, who once got a federal law passed banning banned subway construction through the Fairfax District, now is ready to flip-flop on the basis of flimsy recommendations.

The political power structure of Los Angeles that does so well at looking after itself is ready to derail Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's massive infrastructure bond issue intended for economic development by grabbing a huge chunk for this subway scheme.

That's unfortunate, because adopting this would mean no public transportation projects in any other part of the area for a very long time.

Best estimates for an extension of the Metro Red Line put the price tag at nearly $5 billion, a figure equal to what it cost for all the light rail lines and the San Fernando Valley busway combined. Prior experience would suggest that the actual cost would be much, much higher.

Nor would the horrendous congestion of the L.A.'s Westside soon be relieved. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the opening of first three-mile leg to Fairfax would be a decade away.

There's a better answer: busways. The problem is that busways aren't as sexy. Like the new Orange Line, they just get the job done quickly and relatively cheaply.

The 10 million residents of Los Angeles County want transportation improvements. But dedicating so much to one project that panders to L.A.'s Westside interests is an expensive pipe dream. The time, energy and resources can be put to much better use.

http://cbs2.com/local/local_story_047145308.html Mayor Pushes For $4.8 Billion Subway System

(CBS) LOS ANGELES It would cost $4.8 billion to extend the Metro Red Line, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday that it would be the only way to relieve congestion on the citys clogged freeways and surface streets.

In addition to the cost, a subway to the sea would take 10 years to build, according to a proposal that was unveiled Thursday at a Metro committee meeting.

The mayor, who also serves as MTA board chairman, wants to extend the Wilshire line 13 miles in three phases -- first to the Fairfax district, then to Westwood and Santa Monica.

MTA officials say that the line would cost about $300 million per mile.

"It would be a very, very important addition to a system, which is growing but still isn't where we need it to be to be the alternative to single-passenger automobiles," Villaraigosa said.

The Red Line extension will be discussed again Feb. 23 at an MTA board meeting.

( MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


Subway to Sea Is Far Off at Best By Caitlin Liu, Times Staff Writer

The Red Line subway could be extended from Koreatown to the Pacific Ocean in as few as 10 years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's chief planner said Wednesday.

But the likelihood that a 13-mile extension would be built so fast is slim, she conceded.

"Would you bet your job on it?" Los Angeles County Supervisor and MTA board member Zev Yaroslavsky asked planner Carol Inge after hearing her offer the speedy scenario.

Laughing, Inge said: "No."

After years of being all but dead politically, the idea of expanding the L.A. subway system has become popular again with some officials and transit advocates.

Los Angeles Mayor and MTA Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa spearheaded a study concluding that tunneling through the Miracle Mile district would be safe. The finding eased fears that subway construction could cause underground methane gas to explode and prompted Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) to propose legislation that would lift a ban on using federal funds for expanding the subway.

But huge hurdles remain.

This week the MTA estimated the extension's cost at $4.8 billion. But no one knows where that money would come from. At Wednesday's MTA planning committee meeting, Yaroslavsky said he thought underground rail would be good for the Westside because of its population density and concentration of jobs in such places as Century City and UCLA.

But some transportation officials say they still feel stung by Red Line construction debacles in the 1990s, when parts of Hollywood sank and costs ran so much over budget that the MTA had no money left for projects in other areas.

"We'd be repeating the mistakes of the past," said Los Angeles County Supervisor and MTA board member Mike Antonovich, who said he would oppose any MTA money for a subway extension.

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