LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gridlock in LA is a never-ending reality.

But LA Metro says it has a plan to rescue the city and county.

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“We can do something about the congestion, or on the flip side we can get eaten alive by the congestion,” said Metro CEO Phillip Washington.

The agency needs billions of dollars to fix LA County’s roads and improve transit, Washington said, and he warns traffic will only get worse when 2 million more people move here in the next 40 years. Washington says in order for his agency to fix the system, he needs voters to approve a half-cent sales tax.

“This plan proposes to fix highways, to fix transit, to increase our bus system, bike paths,” Washington said. “It’s all modes of transportation.”

The half-cent sales tax would be on top of the already approved Measure R half-cent tax. As part of the proposal, Metro says it will extend or build new light-rail lines connecting the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, along with new or extended lines on the west side, Southeast LA and Orange County. Metro says one of the most ambitious proposals is building a transit tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass.

Nancy Arellano says she would vote in favor of the sales tax. “I love it. I love public transportation,” she said. “I think half a cent might be difficult for some people, but I think all in all it makes sense because it gets us off the road.”

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For others, the tax may be a tough sell.

CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Tom Wait asked Washington: Cynics might say look at the 405 freeway. We just finished that project, and it’s already a nightmare commute. What do you say to those folks?

“I look at it the other way,” Washington said. “When I’m on the train or on the bus. what if all those people were out there?”

The half-cent tax will need approval from the LA County Board of Supervisors and Metro’s board before going before voters in November, and would need approval from two-thirds of voters in order to go into effect.

 

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