Passage of a long-term federal transportation bill that would give counties flexibility to use innovative financing methods, streamline the project delivery process without sacrificing the environment and create a legacy of improved mobility for the region were among the strategies discussed at the 10th annual Mobility 21 Summit.
More than 1,000 transportation, business and elected leaders met Sept. 6 at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live to pledge their commitment to job creation for Southern California by aggressively pursuing and delivering state and federal transportation investment to the region, according to event officials.
Strategies were also discussed for securing U.S. dollars to create local jobs and a push to prevent the federal gas tax – 18 cents per gallon – from expiring at the end of September. If it vanishes, a significant amount of federal funding for transportation will go with it.
“We will not put the Great Recession in our rear view mirror until we put people back to work,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa. “One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create jobs building the rail-lines, the cargo docks and the airport terminals of the future. This is the reason we launched the 30/10 initiative. It is why we have expanded the idea nationwide as America Fast Forward. And it is why we are asking Washington to change the rules so we can incentivize companies to locate in LA and hire local workers for our locally funded transportation projects.”
Mobility 21 members discussed the Breaking Down Barriers initiative and other innovative financing tools to help accelerate construction and jobs creation.
“The Breaking Down Barriers initiative will expedite the creation of more than 800,000 jobs in the U.S.,” said Orange County Transportation Authority CEO and Mobility 21 Chair Will Kempton. “While the economy continues to struggle, highway and transit projects in Southern California have the potential to create thousands of jobs. In challenging financial times, it is critical that we cut down on red tape and create jobs faster.”
A coalition of both public and private partners, Mobility 21 Summit attendees agreed that goods movement investment should take top billing in the region.
Mobility 21 members also expressed strong support for using the design-build project delivery method, and enhancing the region’s ability to use public-private partnerships to deliver key projects such as the SR-91 in Riverside County, the Devore Interchange in San Bernardino and the Gerald Desmond Bridge at the Port of Long Beach. Further, Mobility 21 members spoke up for the urgency of a fall bond sale to help save or create more than 214,000 good-paying jobs, avoid wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars and prevent delaying dozens of critical projects throughout the region.
As keynote speaker, former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell shared his vision for the future of the transportation system and the necessary investment the nation must make in infrastructure to maintain its global competitiveness. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, if the nation continues to under-invest in transportation, U.S. exports will drop by $28 billion by 2020.