Hundreds converge for Mobility 21 summit

Sen. Barbara Boxer and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a brief media briefing at today's Mobility 21 summit in Anaheim.

They both made a similar point in their remarks: the biggest takeaway from the recently approved federal transportation bill will be the massive expansion of the federal TIFIA loan program, which allows local areas to borrow millions of dollars on very favorable terms — the kind of loans they would otherwise have difficulty getting.

“What I've said to other mayors across the region and is that no one is going to let Los Angeles County get all the [TIFIA] money,” Villaraigosa said. “Many other cities are getting behind this.”

The TIFIA program is what Metro will use to try to accelerate transportation projects under Measure J (if approved by voters). The Mayor's point is a key one — the TIFIA expansion can be used by cities across the nation and it's perhaps the best deal on the table in terms of expanding money for infrastructure projects. Of course, the money does need to be paid back, meaning that cities with a revenue stream to pay it back will be the ones that get the money.

Here's the news release on the Mobility 21 Summit:

ANAHEIM, Calif. — More than 800 transportation, business and elected leaders came together today at the Disneyland Hotel today for the 11th annual Mobility 21 Southern California Transportation Summit. The conference focused on bringing the public and leaders from a broad spectrum of backgrounds together to improve transportation in Southern California.

On the brink of the full closure on I-405 in Los Angeles County this weekend, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Mobility 21 leaders from across the region gathered for a press conference during the Summit to unveil five steps to overcome the threat of permanent Carmageddon: 1) creating transportation systems with all modes working in concert; 2) investing in goods movement infrastructure; 3) supporting local sales tax initiatives; 4) encouraging public-private partnerships and 5) enhancing bikeways and walkways.

As Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer addressed policy changes included in the recently passed federal transportation bill, MAP-21, that will help ease traffic conditions in Southern California and improve the region’s goods movement system.

“MAP-21 will save or create 3 million jobs – including 300,000 in California,” said Boxer. “Here in Southern California roads are congested, leading to time wasted in traffic and delays to vital goods movement. MAP-21 will provide increased tools to transportation agencies to get people moving safely and efficiently.”

In an era of dwindling state and federal resources, 74 percent of the money for Southern California’s transportation projects is raised locally, predominantly through sales tax measures. During the Summit, Villaraigosa emphasized the role of leveraging local funding through financing tools in the America Fast Forward program.

“America Fast Forward is an innovative federal transit-funding program that started in Southern California,” said Villaraigosa. “It proves that great things are possible when we work together to tackle congestion in our region. Its success is also a reminder that we must continue to work collectively to fund important transportation projects.”

Keynote speaker Jonathan Tisch, Chairman of Loews Hotels and Co-Owner of the New York Giants, shared his perspective on the need for public-private partnerships to secure much-needed investments in transportation.

“Given the vast fiscal and budget challenges our nation faces – with rising retirement, health care and pension costs consuming ever-greater percentages of government budgets – we will not be able to build the world-class infrastructure America desperately needs by relying on traditional funding models.”

As a nonprofit coalition of public and private sector members, Mobility 21 strongly supports investing in all modes of transportation to keep Southern California’s 21 million residents moving. Membership in Mobility 21 is free and open to all members of the public concerned with ending gridlock.

“As our transportation network ages and population grows, we have to work together to reduce gridlock traffic, maintain our quality of life and assure global competitiveness for businesses in Southern California,” said Gary Toebben, Chair of Mobility 21 and President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “The governments and businesses in our region must work together to shape a sustainable transportation future. To assist in that effort, we have launched a mobile website to make it easier for all of us to add our voices in support of transportation improvements that will benefit us all.”

Mobility 21 launched a transportation advocacy mobile web application at the conference, urging the public to hold elected leaders accountable for improving transportation in Southern California.

“We’re all in this together,” said Anne Mayer, Vice Chair of Mobility 21 and Executive Director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission. “Transportation is the backbone of our economy, public health, safety and quality of life. That’s why we’re asking for the public’s help in voicing their support of transportation by joining Mobility 21.”

During a luncheon ceremony, Boxer was presented with a Transportation Vanguard Award and Villaraigosa was honored with a Transportation Visionary Award. Mobility 21 also presented awards to several of Southern California's transportation leaders for their ongoing efforts to keep the region moving:

Hon. Bill Campbell, Supervisor, County of Orange District 3

Hon. Pam O’Connor, Councilmember, City of Santa Monica

Deborah Barmack, Former Executive Director, San Bernardino Associated Governments

Fran Inman, Senior Vice President, Majestic Realty Co. and Commissioner, California Transportation Commission

Cindy Quon, Former Director, Caltrans District 12

Categories: Transportation News