Freeways v. Transit, Goods Movement v. Air Quality: Spending Priorities Are Key

Coming up for a vote this week in Congress: the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, H.R.7 is opposed by Metro and many other governmental and advocacy groups around the country because it ends gas tax funding for public transit. If the federal government keeps those funds solely for highways, where will we find the money for 21st century transportation options?

Coming up February 14: the public comment period closes for the Southern California Association of Governments Draft 2012 Regional Transportation Plan and its Program Environmental Impact Report. The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership’s legislative committee has voiced concerns about the RTP’s proposed elevated truck route along the I-60, dedicated to moving goods containers inland. In an email blast, the SGVEP says, “Congestion on the I-60 is affecting distribution and needs to be addressed but the project as originally proposed has issues that need to be addressed as well…”

The No 710 Action Committee, the Coalition for a Safe Environment, and others also object to the plan’s impacts, and argue that funds should be allocated instead to zero-emission, electrified rail for goods movement. A new RAND Corporation study Highway Infrastructure and the Economy, concludes that “In restructuring U.S. transportation policy, Congress should steer funding toward projects of ‘national significance’…’that have positive net benefits dispersed over large geographic areas.'” Eliminating thousands of diesel truck trips on urban roadways daily, which an electrified rail system would do, would have such benefits for this entire region.

Elected officials can no longer kick the can down the road, so they need to stop focusing on roads! We need to invest in projects that will improve air quality, reduce congestion, enhance public health and the environment, and provide 21st century transportation jobs. We don’t need more highways and freeways and trucks in Southern California.