Transportation Key Issue On Santa Clarita Agenda
Groups makes case for Golden State Freeway carpool and truck lane project.
Transportation projects were one of the top items on the agendas of the 70 participants in the KHTS Sacramento trip, including improving an important thoroughfare that runs through the community.
The proposal to add north and southbound truck and carpool lanes to I-5 has been in the works for awhile, but is not yet at the “shovel ready” stage required to qualify for federal stimulus money. The $506 million project would be located at I-5 between State Route 14 and the Pico/Lyons exit, is currently in the design phase, requiring $7.5 million for final design of the truck lanes.
The Golden State Gateway Coalition has been working with Caltrans on preliminary designs and it is anticipated that the environmental impact report will be approved in the second quarter of this year. The cooperative effort has saved taxpayers approximately $9 million and resulted in an earlier completion of the EIR.
Victor Lindenheim, director of the Golden State Gateway Coalition, brought up the issue to both Assemblyman Roger Niello, who sits on the Assembly Budget Committee and Assemblyman Mike Eng, chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. While both legislators cautioned that the project wouldn’t qualify for federal stimulus money, Eng’s transportation consultant said that other funding was starting to free up and there was a good possibility that, because of the projects benefits (providing jobs and reducing pollutants), it could be funded from other state sources.
Niello, whose family makes its living selling cars, brought a unique perspective to the issue of transportation and tax monies. He said that transportation dollars were considered part of the “normal infrastructure” that had been compromised by both the current budget situation and the state’s near-junk bond credit rating.
“Our recovery depends on the country’s recovery,” he said.
He added that the sale of some bonds, recently announced by the state Treasurer, were a positive step toward solvency.