In November 2016, along with the contentious election, Los Angeles County passed a promising new sales tax measure, known as Measure M. Measure M, approved by a two-thirds supermajority, adds an extra $0.5 tax on transportation, effective through 2039. Measure M will provide a projected $120 billion in highway, transit, operations, and maintenance funding over a forty year period. This will help fund infrastructure improvements throughout the area, benefitting the residents who use the county’s roads, freeways, and public transit system.
Measure M actually isn’t particularly new. It has already been in effect in the past. In 1990, it was approved for a 20 year period. During that time, it produced over $4 billion in improvements, including adding 192 miles of new freeway, making improvements to 170 intersections and 38 freeway changes, and creating the Metrolink service, a passenger rail system in Southern California with over 55 stations.
Measure M’s Plans: Funding New Infrastructure with a Minor Sales Tax
A half a cent may not seem like much, but when aggregated, it creates vast amounts of money that can be put toward restoring, maintaining, and expanding California’s infrastructure. By the time Measure M expires in 2039, it will have risen to one cent, in keeping with projected inflation. Each year, it will bring in an astonishing $860 million dollars. This has the potential to dramatically transform the LA region’s transportation infrastructure, creating new rail lines, a new subway under Sepulveda Pass, and a new extension of the Purple Line heavy rail subway system into Westwood.
Along with these large, ambitious uses of the Measure M money, numerous smaller improvements are also planned. The money will be used to repair potholes, improve aging sidewalks, make the region more friendly to cyclists with new bike lanes, and even create greenways that add color to the hazy urban landscape of Los Angeles.
Implementing New Infrastructure Improvements through Measure M
To execute these plans effectively, a series of strategic initiatives has been put forth for managing these projects.
- Staff capacity planning. To realize the ambitions of the Measure M project, there needs to be adequate staffing with the right personnel. Strategic consultants will assist the project in identifying, recruiting, and retaining top talent for the project’s core staff. Some processes can be streamlined or automated to keep costs down. There will also be a new initiative to partner with LA’s community colleges to integrate transportation studies into core curricula.
- Acquisition process innovation. Within the construction industry, contracts are developed independently for individual projects. There are many types of contract delivery systems, which can complicate these processes. Finding new ways to make the procurement process more efficient can save time, reduce costs, and improve the flow of project management. These initiatives can include working with private industry for innovation, streamlining processes and documentation procedures, and creating opportunities for small businesses to become involved.
A stronger project budget process.
- This time around, there’s been a significant increase in the number and scope of projects that Measure M will deliver. Life of Project (LoP) budgets will need to be ascertained for these projects.
- Detailed technical documentation. Measure M also involves a new Technical Documents initiative, which involves reviewing the prescriptive versus performance-oriented parameters of contracts, reducing the number of submittals and approvals that are necessary, and promoting emerging technologies.
- Quality management initiatives. There will be a thorough review of the LA Metro’s Quality Management Program (QMP) and accompanying Quality Management Program Manual (QMPM) documentation. This will account for new best practices derived from the experiences of other transit agencies.
- Third party utility interfaces. Third party utility related issues are one of the foremost causes of project delays, in terms of both development and delivery. Utility strategic planning, organizational structure analysis, and expansion of the pool of participating contractors will be involved in the process, via a newly established Municipal/Utility Task Force.
- Alliances with external jurisdictions. One of the biggest contributors to a successful project delivery under Measure M is the success of coordination among stakeholders and third parties. This includes close cooperation between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Metro Area, including joint strategic planning, mutual agreement regarding design criteria, and other initiatives.
Funding the Future of California’s Transportation Infrastructure
With just a modest increase in the county’s sales taxes, Measure M will generate promising new funds for a variety of projects to improve the Los Angeles area’s transportation infrastructure. This will address a wide variety of existing problems, both major and minor.
At Cordoba Corp, we have a long history of close involvement with the LA Area’s infrastructural initiatives. From our perspective, Measure M is a much-needed means to inject necessary funding into infrastructure initiatives, ultimately making Los Angeles a better place for its residents.