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SoCal group approves foot-friendly transit plan

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POSTED April 4, 2012 8:17 p.m.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — The government group that oversees Southern California transportation planning voted Wednesday to approve a $524 billion agreement that aims to put unprecedented resources into walking, biking and public transportation in a region known for anything but.

The 83-member council of the Southern California Association of Governments unanimously adopted the 25-year plan at its meeting in Los Angeles. It now goes to several federal agencies for approval.

While freeways and other automotive needs remain at the top of the Southern California food chain, the plan shows a major shift in priorities.

Nearly half the money — $246 billion — would go to public transportation, and in an attempt to make that money more meaningful, the region would aim for 60 percent more housing near public transit than currently exists. It also has projections of 4.2 million new jobs in the region, and plans to keep public transit within a half-mile of nearly all of them.

And while it remains a small part of the overall funding, money to make biking and walking easier would be more than tripled, from $1.8 billion to $6.7 billion.

The agreement is intended to improve public health by reducing emissions and encouraging exercise, but the planned money outlays may not sit well with some government officials and citizens in a state hard up for cash, or with the region's large number of drivers who have no intention of getting out of their cars and getting on bikes and trains.

The long-term plan is updated every four years by SCAG, whose 83 council members represent 191 cities and more than 18 million people in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.


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