The International Olympic Committee officially announced Los Angeles as the host city for the Summer Olympic Games in 2028. This will be the third time the City of Angels will host the games after hosting in 1984 and 1932. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called it a “huge win” that will “show the world the values that make us who we are as Americans and Angelenos.”
Although the games are 11 years away, now is the time to begin planning and implementing a transportation system to meet the Olympic surge as well as serve the residents of Los Angeles long after the flame is extinguished. The city’s transportation infrastructure has significantly improved since the 1984 Summer Olympics, but the landscape of our community has dramatically changed over the last 30 years and will continue to do so over the next decade. To deliver a world-class experience in 2028, we must deliver world-class transportation options.
The 1984 Summer Olympics were a turning point in Olympic history, as the city successfully hosted the games and realized a $225 million profit, reversing the trend of financial losses experienced by previous host cities. Traffic was predicted to be so dire that locals were warned to stay off the roads or face gridlock. However, with schedule adjustments to shipping routes, employers who implemented flexible work hours, and residents who made efforts to reduce travel over those two weeks, traffic was well managed, pleasantly surprising residents and guests who feared the worst possible L.A. congestion.
The population of Los Angeles County in 1984 was just over 8 million; it is projected to approach 11 million by 2028. Tactics that worked 30 years ago will not be sufficient to assure a safe and enjoyable environment the next time we stage the Olympics.
With most of the Olympic infrastructure already in place, including athlete housing, stadiums and hotels, we must be laser-focused on expanding our world-class mass-transit system to improve mobility, provide more transportation options, stimulate our local economy and create jobs before and after the games. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Measure M, a half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters last year, is projected to generate an additional $860 million a year for county transportation funding. More than $4 billion is slated for transit projects serving the San Fernando Valley, and an additional $3.4 billion in “local return” funds can be used for highway and street improvements in the Valley.