Local Assistance Implements First Steps Towards Economic Recovery
Caltrans District 7 assists local agencies with paperwork for federal stimulus dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 7 held three workshops on March 24, 25 and 26 in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties on funding local transportation projects using funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). By holding these workshops, Caltrans District 7 demonstrated its readiness to implement the stimulus program and is taking steps to ensure effective coordination with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The workshops were well-attended, approximately 50 representatives session from local municipalities came to each session to hear directly from Caltrans on application deadlines and important dates to acquire funding, when projects must complete and when funding ends. To assist local agencies in this preparation, the workshops outlined details of ARRA objectives, fund availability, distribution requirements, accountability, transparency, and reporting requirements.
Staff from District 7 and Headquarters were on hand to review and comment on applications.The workshops were organized by Caltrans District 7 Deputy Director, Planning and Local Assistance, James McCarthy and facilitated by Kirk Cessna, Chief, Local Assistance and Alameda Corridors.
Three senior transportation engineers from Caltrans Sacramento Headquarters, Nahed Abdin, Raj Valluvan, and Patrick Louie, all of the Division of Planning Office of Project Implementation- South, were active participants throughout the workshops.
Since President Barack Obama signed the ARRA, on President’s Day, February 17, 2009, significant new funding for transportation infrastructure, has become available.
The ARRA is a job and economic stimulus bill intended to help states and the nation restart their economies and stimulate employment during the worst economic downturn in over 70 years. In drafting this bill, President Obama and Congress recognized that investment in transportation infrastructure is one of the best ways to create and sustain jobs, stimulate economic development, and leave a legacy to support the financial well-being of the generations to come. The intent and language of the bill responds to the urgency of our national situation by tasking state departments of transportation and other transportation stakeholders to quickly move forward with mobility projects that bring real value to the local, state, and national economy.
Nationally, the bill provides more than $48 billion for transportation. California is expected to receive at least $31.5 billion in federal stimulus funding, with about eight percent, or $2.57 billion of the total specifically towards funding highway, local streets and roads. In addition, California is eligible to apply for funding under other discretionary programs that set aside $8 billion for high speed and intercity rail, $1.5 billion for significant surface transportation projects, $1.3 billion for aviation, and $2.2 billion for AMTRAK, transit and ferries.
Priority for project selection will be given to projects that are expected to complete in three years (March 2012) and are located in economically distressed areas to ensure that the two primary goals of job creation and promoting economic health are met.
Ensuring that California gets the maximum benefit from the ARRA will remain the primary focus of the Department until all funding opportunities under the bill expire. The Department is taking action to help expedite this program and facilitate use of the funds. Caltrans website at www.dot.ca.gov is the Department's focal point for information on using the benefits of ARRA to create jobs and jumpstart the national economy through increasing mobility in California.