SCAG - Believes the President's Proposed $302 Billion Surface Transportation Re-Authorization Plan Is a Step in the Right Direction

The Obama Administration recently proposed a $302 billion surface transportation re-authorization plan that would address the need for critical repairs and modernization of the nation’s aging roads, bridges, highways and railways. If passed, the plan would create thousands of jobs nationwide while helping to avert what the White House refers to as a “funding crisis” later this year when current funding is set to expire.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 14, 2014

The Southern California Association of Governments, also known as SCAG, which oversees the development of regional transportation improvement plans, believes the President’s proposal is a step in the right direction. However, according to SCAG’s Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, the biggest challenge to these plans is how to pay for them. In any case, with so many critical repairs and improvements needed in Southern California alone, Mr. Ikhrata believes now is not the time for partisan politics.

To illustrate the urgency of funding for transportation improvement plans, a recent study conducted by the Southern California Association of Governments found that 9 percent of state highway bridges in SCAG’s 6 county region are structurally deficient, while another 19 percent are functionally obsolete. The failure of just one of those bridges could be catastrophic in terms of dollars and potentially lives lost, according to Mr. Ikhrata.

The Southern California Association of Governments believes that being proactive with regard to funding and investment toward much-needed improvements in the region’s transportation infrastructure is essential to economic growth and future prosperity.

According to the US Department of Transportation, the Highway Trust Fund, which has been supported by an 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax since 1993, is expected to run out of money before the end of the 2014 fiscal year. The current transportation law also known as MAP-21, which dedicated $105 billion over 2 years will expire at about the same time.

The Obama Administration’s new proposal includes funding of $2.5 billion per year toward a freight grant program to pay for rail, highway and port projects that are particularly vital to Southern California. According to SCAG, goods movement and related industries account for one third of all jobs and economic activity in the 6 Southern California counties it represents. It is the opinion of the Southern California Association of Governments that a federal freight program like the one included in the President’s new plan would be an investment in American businesses by creating jobs and stimulating global trade, and determining how to pay for it and all the nation’s critical transportation needs should be a top priority.

In a review of SCAG’s 2012 through 2035 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, independent economists found that a dollar invested in transportation improvements included in the plan would result in a return of $2.90—much of that in the form of jobs as acknowledged in President Obama’s re-authorization plan.

The Southern California Association of Governments is urging Congress to make the new $302 billion surface transportation re-authorization plan a priority.