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Transit agencies in two major U.S. cities — Seattle and Los Angeles — announced yesterday that they will ask voters to approve local tax increases to pay for projects that will expand the cities' transportation options, including rail.Sound Transit's board yesterday approved adding a transit expansion measure to the November ballot. Known a Sound Transit 3, the measure calls for new sales, property and motor vehicle and excise taxes to fund $53.8 billion worth of public transportation projects, including the construction of 62 miles of light rail.If voters approve the ballot measure, Sound Transit also would build light rail between South Kirkland, Bellevue and Issaquah, Wash., in addition to expanding Sounder commuter-rail service.The projects would increase Sound Transit ridership fivefold, agency officials said in a press release.Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board yesterday approved a similar measure that will appear on the November ballot. Known as the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, Metro's measure calls for a new half-cent sales tax to fund a variety of transit and highway projects, in addition to roadway improvements and pedestrian and bike paths. The measure also calls for a "sustained funding approach" that would allow the tax to continue beyond 40 years to accelerate several of the transportation projects, according to a Metro press release.The plan also allows construction of the Eastside Gold Line Extension to both South El Monte and Whittier, Calif., agency officials said."This plan is the most aggressive yet balanced initiative in this country today," said Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington. "It goes far beyond building and delivering projects. It includes operating and maintaining the system we build, takes full advantage of technology as it develops, and provides an opportunity to not only tackle the transportation infrastructure challenges of today, but once and for all."
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