It’s been a very eventful and exciting time for transportation for many reasons. Caltrans co-hosted the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission hearing at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from February 21-22. This Commission was created under Section 1909 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU); and was created because members of Congress declared that, "It is in the national interest to preserve and enhance the surface transportation system to meet the needs of the United States for the 21st Century.”
The Commission is comprised of 12 members, representing Federal, State and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation-related industries, and public interest organizations, working to examine not only the condition and future needs of the nation's surface transportation system, but also short- and long-term alternatives to replace or supplement the fuel tax as the principal revenue source to support the Highway Trust Fund over the next 30 years.
A stellar group of speakers shared their expertise and vision with transportation professionals and elected officials alike on such issues as: California and the economy; trade and commerce; mobility, congestion and safety; national policy and efficiency; partnership and collaboration; and transition to the next generation transportation system. Among the speakers was U. S. Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters, who also chairs the Commission, and has spent more than two decades crafting solutions to our nation's toughest transportation challenges. Her experience brings an understanding and appreciation of the real-life aspects of planning, building and operating transportation systems on local, regional and state levels.
Caltrans volunteers from External Affairs staffed this important event, and I have received many positive comments on Caltrans’ participation. I would like to thank Derrick Alatorre, Norma Dorsey, Judy Gish, Marcia Graves, Yessica Jovel, Robbie Miles, Maria Raptis, Dave White and Jeanne Bonfilio. You all did a great job!
District 7 is continuing to work hard on important transportation improvement projects for Los Angeles and Ventura counties; one such project, the 57/60 Interchange direct High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) connector is now complete (please read cover story in this month’s edition of Inside Seven.) And we are excited about moving forward with additional funding to improve and enhance our world-class transportation system. What this takes is teamwork – and partnerships.
With the California Transportation Commission (CTC) voting on which projects will ultimately be funded by the recent Bond revenues, the media spotlight has been focused on transportation funding issues in the Los Angeles region. Caltrans is continuing to work closely with the our Headquarters personnel, the CTC, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and other transportation partners regarding the very important funding decisions surrounding the transportation bond measures. The CTC has the awesome responsibility for studying and researching a tremendous amount of transportation data for the entire State, and for making voting decisions on this data.
I am very pleased to report that on February 28, the Commission voted for full funding for three of our most critical projects from the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) list, including $730 million for the San Diego Freeway (I-405) from Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101); and full funding, $387 million, for the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) widening from six to ten lanes from the Orange County line to the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605). In addition, $73 million was funded for the Golden State Freeway (I-5) HOV project from the Hollywood Freeway (SR-170) to the Ventura Freeway (SR-134). With this action, the I-5 carpool lane projects are fully funded from SR-134 to the Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14).
The Department also made a commitment to fund the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10)/San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) interchange, $70.5 million, from the State Highway Operations and Protection Progam (SHOPP) funds; and a commitment to fund $15.8 million for continued State Route 138 safety widening improvements.
And there's even more good news! In addtion, Metro is discussing plans for their March meeting to support the rest of San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) HOV lane project from Puente Avenue to Citus Avenue and again from Citrus Avenue to State Route 57, out of the "call for projects" funding, or future State Highway Improvement Program (STIP) shares funding.
All of this is great news for the motorists of this region; and great news for Caltrans. There will be a tremdous amount of highway improvement work all over Los Angeles County. And a tremendous amount of mobility improvements to look forward to, and to be proud of.
Caltrans thanks the CTC and their staff for looking so closely at the projects submitted for consideration; to Metro for their innovative funding and for helping to "fast track" projects for I-10 HOV lanes; and to Caltrans' Headquarters staff for their constant teamwork.
Caltrans would also like to express its sincere gratitude to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his letter to the CTC in support of this region's projects. In addition, our appreciation to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina for their assistance, commitment and support -- and for speaking to the CTC regarding increased funding for this region.
Also speaking to the CTC regarding increased funding for this region were: Congressman Brad Sherman, Senator Sheila Kuehl, Senator Alan Lowenthal, Assembly Member Bob Huff, Assembly Member Tony Mendoza, Assembly Member Pedro Nava, Assembly Member Kevin de Leon, Assembly Member Cameron Smythe, Assembly Member Mike Feuer and City of Duarte Councilman John Fasana. Caltrans thanks these and other elected officials and transportation partners and professionals for their foresight and support of increased transportation funding in order to continue the important progress we’ve all made together in meeting the transportation needs of this region, and our state.
All of these partnerships have been, and will continue to be, the key to our success as we continue to build trust and confidence with the motoring public. California’s motorists depend on an efficient, dependable and safe transportation system. We will continue to work to that end.