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Officials gather to tackle L.A. traffic

September 21, 2009 7:42:24 PM PDT
Southern California's freeways are some of the most congested in the nation, driving many motorists to frustration. "I hate living here because of it. People are meaner because of it, and no one respects each other because of the freeways," says Liz Kan of Simi Valley.

Today hundreds of government, business and civic leaders attended the Mobility 21 Summit in downtown Los Angeles. The focus was to fast track funding for what they call "critical" transportation projects.

"We want to accelerate these projects. The opportunity is there. It's going to take a united region," says L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The mayor and regional transportation leaders revealed the "in my backyard" or IMBY list which consists of 21 transportation projects that will make it easier to get around southern California.

Some of those proposals to reduce traffic congestion include additional carpool lanes on the I-10 Corridor, more lanes on the 405, increased capacity on the 91 Freeway between Riverside and Orange County, wider ramps on the 101 and 23 interchange in Ventura County and improvements on the heavily traveled 215 Corridor in the Inland Empire.

"They'll reduce congestion, they'll improve air quality, move goods and people, they'll do what we should be doing right now in an area that has the ignominious distinction of being the most congested in the United States of America," says the mayor.

The $625 billion wish list also includes a plan to extend the metro rail to L.A.'s west side and a high speed train line between Anaheim and downtown L.A.

"We're one of the few areas that have local money to match federal money so there's a great opportunity here," says Art Leahy, CEO of M.T.A.

Officials are hoping to secure the money from the federal government under a transportation funding bill being put together now by congress.

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