World Class Infrastructure cannot be achieved without strategically investing in our transportation system, which includes street maintenance, operations, and capital improvements for all modes of travel. Our outreach participants expressed that transportation funding was not being clearly distributed nor being distributed “among greatest real needs.” Others felt that their tax dollars were not being effectively invested: “Spend our money now, not on studies.”
Taxpayers have seen how large-scale, regional projects have progressed with funding from Measure R, and potential acceleration of these projects through Measure J. However, investment gaps at the local level have been brought up as concerns from participants all over the city, most notably regarding the condition of the city’s streets. One participant noted, “Many members of our community believe that the City has failed miserably in its obligation to keep our streets and sidewalks safe by keeping them well-maintained. There can be no Great Neighborhoods and no Great Streets without a meaningful street maintenance program”
Historically, street maintenance has been conducted on a project-by-project basis supported by sources such as the General Fund, Gas Tax, Street Damage Restoration Fee, and Propositions 1B, C, and 42. However, recent economic conditions have resulted in cuts to infrastructure funding in order to sustain more critical City services, such as public safety. These cuts have exacerbated an already strained maintenance budget, pushing the backlog up to $1.96 billion for the City’s 6,500-mile street system, as identified in the Bureau of Street Services’ 2011 State of the Streets report.
Beyond investment in infrastructure and services, transportation plays a larger role in the economic development of Los Angeles. Transportation plays a role in accessing jobs and commuting as well as goods movement. Goods movement has a far-reaching transportation impact, as high volumes of freight arrive in a few locations (ports and airports) but are ultimately delivered to destinations far and wide, affecting traffic congestion, environmental impacts, and economic vitality in the entire Los Angeles region. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rank as the largest and second largest U.S. ports. Combined, they are the fifth largest port complex in the world. In addition, greater Los Angeles is the largest manufacturing center in the United States.
We are proposing a goal of Smart Investments to address the economic challenges facing our transportation system. With this goal, we can begin a conversation about policies on sustainable funding sources, including bonds, development fees, or public-private partnerships, to ensure that projects and programs can be carried out in the long run. We can prioritize funds to close funding gaps and budget appropriately for repair and preventative maintenance to our infrastructure. We can monitor and evaluate our investments to ensure that we are pursuing funding strategies that demonstrate fiscally responsible results.
Smart Investments in transportation can also yield benefits in land use, housing, and the larger economy. We can work with Metro to improve “transit corridors” to alleviate the jobs-housing imbalance. Transit lines, both new and existing, can invigorate nearby land by enabling people to access new jobs, services, and resources. Strategic investment in transportation can also help decrease safety concerns and “first mile, last mile” gaps for those who are hesitant to make trips on foot, bike, or public transit. By making Smart Investments, we can make changes in our transportation infrastructure that will benefit all travelers as well as the local economy.