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Metro board likely to extend ExpressLanes tolling in February 2014

During the week of December 8th, Metro gave updates on their controversial conversion of “ExpressLanes” along the I-110 and I-10 corridors.  Metro has interchanged the use of “demonstration” and “pilot” throughout the existence of lanes.  November 2012 the lanes opened along the I-110 and February 2013 along the I-10.  The demonstration (pilot) was scheduled to end in February 2014 with legislation calling for funds to be reinvested through each corridor that generated them.

ExpressLanes

At the POWER Collaborative Network Meeting held on December 9th, at the LAWA Flight Path Museum, Metro Director Kathy McCune gave a performance update to those in attendance.  This group also provides job training to low-income residents in their coverage area.  It appears the meeting was nothing more than a focus group for Metro who is having trouble getting low-income residents to open accounts.  While consulting groups received contracts to promote the ExpressLanes, these folks were given breakfast for their ideas.

As Ms. McCune gave her presentation, she mentioned the “pilot” phase would end come February 2014.  When asked why Metro is continuing to conduct outreach to open Fastrak accounts, for a project that ends in a couple of months, McCune responded:

the [Metro] board anticipates extending [tolling] beyond February 2014

What the public isn’t aware of is the legislation authorizing Metro to implement toll lanes, gave Metro authority to toll up to 30 years.  As discussed at the MEL Advisory Group meeting back in October, the board has to vote in February whether to continue to charge the tolls and currently has $15 million that has not been allocated.  Many groups are interested in the unallocated funds, including Caltrans.  The question no one is asking is “who will be deciding how the funds are spent and how much is earmarked per city?”

At the Metro South Bay Service Council meeting on Friday, December 13, Metro Director Jon Hillmer gave a performance update on the service lines, while Metro Development Manager, Scott Page, discussed how the Westside Service Council has requested toll lanes be added to the 405 freeway corridor from Wilshire through the Valley.   The huge difference in the 405 toll lanes, from those on the 10 and 110 are:

  • only tolling in peak evening hours
  • no tolling on mornings/weekends

Why do those traveling the 405 get the comfort of only being charged at one time during the day, when those driving along the 10 and 110 are charged 24/7?  Inglewood councilman and South Bay Service Council chair Ralph L. Franklin also reminded the crowd that the South Bay Service council were the entity to demand Metro waive the $3 monthly maintenance fee, which severely reduced the amount of money being invested into South Bay roadways.  This is troublesome.  Roads in Inglewood, specifically Century Blvd and Imperial Hwy, are both located in Franklin’s district, and are in dire need of repairs.

The Metro board voted both in April and again in October to waive the monthly maintenance fee which severely undermines the amount for reinvestment.  The petition to waive the fee originated back in February 2013 at a regular city council meeting in Rancho Palos Verdes.

City of Hawthorne resident William Meyers was also in attendance at Friday’s meeting.  When asked what brought him to the meeting he replied:

I want to see who is in charge of cutting [reducing] bus service in the South Bay since I am now using Metro full-time.

Meyers was also not aware the members of the council are paid lobbyists. To keep this in perspective, both the Westside and South Bay Service Councils are paid $100/month by Metro and are also required to register as Metro lobbyists.  The members of said councils are appointed through joint power authorities.

Are the councils acting in the best interest of the residents or those who appointed them and pay them?  The members were treated to Metro pins and a rousing christmas vocal by LAWA representative Devon Deming to close their last meeting of 2013.

 


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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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