Prince James Story |
As California moves to spend big dollars on infrastructure, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to serve as the state infrastructure advisor.
“With this influx of federal dollars, we have an incredible opportunity to rebuild California while creating quality jobs, modernizing crucial infrastructure, and accelerating our clean transportation progress, benefiting communities up and down the state,” Governor Newsom said. “Antonio has the extensive experience and relationships to deliver on this promise and bring together the many partners who will be key to our success. I look forward to his collaboration with the Administration as we build up communities across California.”
Villaraigosa, who served as Los Angeles’s 41st mayor from 2005-2013, met with local officials at the Riverside Chamber of Commerce last month to discuss the city’s needs. He pledged to ensure both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties get their rightful share of the infrastructure funding.
“I’m here because this is one of the parts of the state in my mind that hasn’t gotten its fair share,” Villaraigosa said. “I want to do everything possible to work with the leadership here, to identify the best projects that have the most economic impact.”
The Inland Empire received a C on its infrastructure report card from The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The grade is the average of eight categories which include: aviation, drinking water, flood control, local streets, parks, recreation and open space, solid waste, urban runoff and wastewater.
The inland region received its lowest grade, a C- , in the Local Streets category.
Seventy-eight (78)% of major local and state-maintained roads in the Inland Empire were classified as being in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $795 each year in extra vehicle operating costs,” the report states.
Villaraigosa gave a hypothetical example of how infrastructure funding can be maximized: “If we cut the time in building a $1.2 billion project by 20%, it turns into a $1 billion project. Now the state has 200 million dollars for other essential projects.”
“If you could do it for a football and basketball facility? Why not for high-speed rail? Why not for water projects, clean drinking water projects? Why not for, you know, recharging above ground and below ground storage for our farming community,” said Villaraigosa.
“Why can’t we fast-track these projects in a way that gives us a bigger pool of money,”
California has allocated $120 million in federal RAISE grants designated for planning and capital investments to local governments, transit and other agencies around the state for a variety of transportation initiatives including $15 million to the City of Fontana for multi-modal complete street improvements.
Other areas designated to receive RAISE funding include Merced ($25M for high=speed rail), San Francisco ($23M for street improvements), Port of Los Angeles ($20M Terminal Island Grade Separation), Inglewood ($15M Transportation Connector Project, Yuba ($15M Yuba-Sutter Zero Emissions Bus Operations), Sacramento SAG ($5M Mobility Zones), and Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation ($1.6M pedestrian and bicycle path).
“We want to leverage our money for good jobs and middle-class jobs to address economic development and the need to repair our infrastructure so we can grow our economy and grow our economy in a way where we’re growing together,” Villaraigosa said.