Infrastructure is critical to our economy, society, security and future. Maintaining and building Southern California’s roads, bridges, rail systems, ports, airports, water and sewer systems, energy grids, and more, assures that our economy remains competitive, prosperous, and solid.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has championed investing in infrastructure and advocated for building a more sustainable, livable, and safe city. His stewardship is reflected in the number of projects to expand our transit system, protect our environment, create jobs, and increase mobility for all Angelenos.
A number of such projects are underway and slated for completion before the 2028 Olympic Games. We can envision the future in a city with less traffic and more transit options, newly re-paved roads, rebuilt bridges, including the iconic 6th Street Viaduct, and a world-class international airport that connects to regional rail and an expanded public transit system.
While we know what needs to be done to address aging and obsolete infrastructure and to make strategic improvements that benefit future generations, we need the means to deliver it. Paying for critical infrastructure depends on developing a steady and dependable funding stream at the federal, state and local level, and the participation of the private sector.
L.A. voters took a bold step by passing Measure M, the half-cent sales tax; its benefits are already helping fund transportation improvements. Measure M is a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that goes a long way towards solving the most pressing infrastructure challenges we face here.
In 2017, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1, the state’s gasoline tax and vehicle fee program, that is now generating revenues to invest in priority transportation projects in Southern California.
Last week, the California Transportation Commission awarded more than $1.2 billion in gasoline tax funds to Southern California transportation projects. SB-1 revenues will be combined with locally-generated Measure M and R programs to continue improving and expanding our city’s transportation network.
Leveraging local funding will help accelerate priority projects that will benefit our region’s economy, mobility and create thousands of new jobs each year. Preserving SB-1 – a vote on a repeal is expected to be on the November ballot – will be critical to assuring that our state highways can be maintained and improved to meet the current and future commuting needs of all Californians.
Projects being expedited and built with Measure M and SB-1 funds are already poised to transform our transportation landscape in ways that will enhance our region’s mobility, economy and quality of life.
The L.A. City Council recently approved a transportation plan offered as a way to alleviate gridlock in and around the airport and provide convenient access to L.A.’s expanding public transportation system. The centerpiece is an automated people mover which will connect LAX’s nine terminals to a new “gateway” ground transportation hub, consolidated rental car facility, and Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX line. $150 million in SB-1 funding is allocated to the Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit Station Project.
The Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont was celebrated as the first Measure M-funded project to break ground. The $1.5 billion, six-station extension of L.A. Metro’s Gold Line light rail system will extend the rail route to the western edge of San Bernardino County and is expected to receive $290 million in SB-1 funding.
Other SB-1 project awards include $247 million for the Interstate 5 Golden State Chokepoint Relief Project and $128.6 million for America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Rail Project.
We must continue to work with business, labor and public-sector officials to implement solutions to our most pressing infrastructure challenges with a long-term view.
As a city, region and state, we have demonstrated the bravery and foresight of a people who believe in leaving our region better than the one we inherited. We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century.
Art Hadnett is president of HNTB Corporation’s West Division.
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