Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was so pumped up Monday announcing a $180-million surplus in Orange Line construction funds that he tore his crisp, tailored, white shirt doing pull-ups on the horizontal grab bars in a MetroLiner bus. "Not bad for a 59-year-old guy going on 60," he said.
Proclaiming in Chatsworth that the four-mile Orange Line Extension construction is ahead of schedule and under budget, he said, "The money that was otherwise allocated for Measure R will go to another San Fernando Valley project. That's the great news today."
The new project might be a north-south rapid bus service on Van Nuys Boulevard or rapid transit through the Sepulveda Pass to the Westside, he said.
Measure R was a voter-approved half-cent transit sales tax. However, enough state and local money was found for the Orange Line that Measure R money didn't have to be used, he said.
"This project, which is a Measure R project which was going to use Measure R dollars, is now using state funds, about $180 million of state funds," Villaraigosa said.
"So this project is under budget, it's on time, it's a great example of what Angelenos were looking for when they passed Measure R," he said.
Villaraigosa extracted a public pledge from Metro officials that the dedicated busway from Canoga Park to Chatsworth would open by June, as he herded a gaggle of aides, department heads and journalists up the partially completed Lassen Street overpass.
He and Metro officials led a tour that included a bus ride on a section of busway heading south from Roscoe Street to the Canoga station. Along the way he pointed out where walkways and bicycle paths would parallel the bus lanes.
The mayor said the public wants "to invest more in public transportation. They want to reduce their commute times. And they want an alternative to the single-passenger automobile."