Purple Line Must Be on Fast TrackOP-ED Monday, April 23, 2012
We now have a very important opportunity in front of us to change the status quo and provide a foundation for the future of Los Angeles and this region: the extension of the Purple Line subway into the Westside.
Unlike what’s happening on Capitol Hill and in Sacramento, this project has garnered support across the political divide. Republicans, Democrats, business leaders and labor representatives have all traveled to Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and many elected officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to lobby for federal loans, to be paid back from Measure R funds, to accelerate the Westside subway extension’s construction. But even with all this support, the subway, and the thousands of jobs and opportunities it will create, is still very much at risk due to the voices of a few.
We come from what are often two very different political standpoints. Business and labor are frequently at odds in City Hall, Sacramento and Washington. Despite our differences, we have both been part of the movement to extend the Purple Line into the Westside. We have both been working hard to build support among our constituents; we have lobbied in Washington, and we have testified on behalf of both of our organizations because we believe in the Westside subway extension and the very real promise of jobs and opportunities it will create.
And, when we speak of jobs, we are not just talking about the many thousands of construction workers who will build the subway, it’s also the thousands of jobs that will be created once the subway is operating. These include jobs generated by the increase in commerce due to the efficiency of the wider reach of mass transit. The Westside subway extension will dramatically shorten commutes, reduce traffic congestion, improve quality of life, make employees more productive, and encourage private investment in this region at a time when unemployment remains in the double digits and our freeways and roadways to and from the Westside are congested every day.
With all of these reasons to be in favor of the extension of the Purple Line, there are still a few people who oppose it, loudly and with substantial funding, to further their personal political agendas and to add color to their own political rhetoric. We need to be better than that. This project means much more to all of us in the region than jurisdictional boundaries and insular ideologies.
Subways are built beneath schools, homes and businesses all over this country, state and region. We cannot, and should not, make exceptions for one community to the exclusion of others.
We ask on behalf of the 140,000 hard-working men and women that make up the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the more than 1,600 businesses and their 650,000 employees that proudly constitute the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce that you join us in supporting the extension of the Purple Line for the good of the region.
Gary Toebben is CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Robbie Hunter is executive secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.