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Mayor Villaraigosa wants to use $700M to repair LA streets

November 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced that wants to use just over $700 million of revenue from Measure R to begin repairing about 1/4 of Los Angeles streets over the next couple years.

Mayor Villaraigosa said he wants to do the work now rather than waiting for the work to be done over the next 28 years.

"We're doing it for a couple reasons: one, because we have high unemployment, two because construction prices are down and unemployment in the construction industry is high," he said.

Two years ago, the voter-approved Measure R, which increased sales tax by a half-cent, went into effect. Measure R funds are meant to improve transportation by funding rail and bus line projects and street repair in L.A. county.

According to the mayor's office, L.A. will get a share of about $2 billion over the next 30 years from the half-cent tax. However, that money is not available now.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti said bonds could help the city pay for the mayor's ambitious plans to repair streets at this present time.

"We can have this bonded and we can do this within two to three years...It would be dramatic. It would mean less broken axles, popped tires, people back to work, and the money that we know is coming in guarantees it," he explained.

City Councilman Bernard Parks, who heads the city council's budget and finance committee, has concerns with the mayor's plan.

"Do you want to spend $700 or 800 million dollars in a two year period and have nothing for the next 27 years? And can you spend $700 million in two years in repairing roads? If we spend it now, what happens over the next 27 years?" he said.

Nonetheless, cab driver Belay Yewondater agrees that the streets of L.A. definitely need repair.

"I think it's a good idea. The streets are bumpy, damaged, so it's good to fix it," he said.

The mayor's office is expected to present its plan to the full city council early next week, and indications are Mayor Villaraigosa has the support and the votes needed for the plan to pass.

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