Most Californians agree that our State's transportation system is in dire need of additional funding for additional improvements and repair. The problem has always been where to secure the necessary funding. In short, it has become more difficult to rely on the federal government, local and regional transportation agencies have become less reliant on the State, the gas tax has not been raised in years, and vehicles have become more fuel efficient, resulting in more miles traveled by more cars without the incremental increase in funding. This week is a major turning point to ...
Today, I attended the IRWA Chapter 67 monthly lunch meeting. The speaker was Philip Law, Corridors Program Manager for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). He came to discuss SCAG's 2008 Regional Transportation Plan. The plan is intended to coordinate efforts to implement transportation improvements through Southern California. It involves a $531.5 billion, 25-year long range plan of needed improvements.
The Plan's Executive Summary [PDF] describes in detail the various plan components, including:
- Maintenance and improvements to existing right of way;
- Substantial new right of way projects involving roads and mass transit (including high speed rail); and
- Efforts to improve the movement of goods, such as dedicated truck lanes and railway grade separation projects.
Mr. Law also described some creative uses of technology that should be further explored, including a planned one-year pilot project for parts of the 10 and 110 freeways that will allow solo drivers to use the existing carpool (HOV) lanes by paying a toll. The ExpressLanes project is scheduled to commence construction in 2010 and open in December 2010.
Additionally, Mr. Law discussed the ever-decreasing role California's gas tax plays in funding infrastructure improvements, as inflation and construction costs far outpace increases in the gas tax. Whether through new, creative funding sources such as the ExpressLanes project, an increase to the gas tax, or some combination of the two, raising $531.5 billion will be no small challenge.
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