Thursday, March 31, 2011

America Fast Forward and 30/10 Create a Moment of Unity Against a Backdrop of Divisiveness in Washington DC

Gloria Ohland captures the thoughts of Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane as he reflects on the significance of Wednesday’s press conference launching the national version of “30-10”:

 “The whole day was exceptional, but the press conference was a watershed moment. It was a gathering of bipartisan leadership — Republican Congressman John Mica and Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, AZ, as well as Democrats Senator Barbara Boxer and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — from both local and federal governments, all singing the same song. The idea that Uncle Sam could develop a financial program that would stretch federal dollars — Senator Boxer said “leverage” was a magic word — was a moment of clarity in the political muddle of Washington because it was set against a backdrop of the threat that federal government really could grind to a halt and not pass a budget because of partisanship and divisions.

“But at the press conference there was this sense of a common responsibility and a common agenda around what is now being called America Fast Forward, and everyone was speaking with a genuine sense of common purpose. There was a sense that this issue could cut through the political divisions and be the foundation for a way of going forward on infrastructure development — that infrastructure was fundamental and could drive our prosperity and competitiveness for the forseeable future, this this was something that everyone could agree on.

“The idea of Uncle Sam as a lender not just a spender has all sorts of unexpected upsides: It won’t push the federal deficit. It would mobilize the real source of public wealth, which is at the level of local government. It wouldn’t force communities to be in competition with one another for federal funding. Whether you are talking about a leveraging factor of 10-to-1 or 30-to-1, the interest on a loan is a measure of the risk of repayment, but when the risk is zero because the payment is certain then the capacity to leverage additional money becomes much more significant. As currently structured TIFIA is funded at $130 million, which creates the capacity for $1.3 billion in loans. If the federal government invests $500 million that creates $5 billion in loans. And when Senator Boxer and Congressman Mica were in LA they said they were thinking of much bigger numbers than that. What if the federal government invested $25 billion in TIFIA?

“The press conference was a moment of common humanity and nonpartisanship — US Chamber President Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka were there as well — and it was striking that this idea of the federal government as a lender and not just a spender could distill a common purpose from our political differences. It was exceptional.

“The line of thinking was that we can do this transformative program if Congress can get through the budget — America Fast Forward was subordinated to the question of whether a budget is possible. But if a budget is impossible then the federal government is impossible. And one has to believe that whatever the differences are they can be reconciled. Senator Boxer said that in addition to the TIFIA program in the transportation bill Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has a bipartisan proposal for an national infrastructure bank and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has proposed a bond program and that all three concepts together could form a package of financial instruments that could be used not just to fund transportation but to fund broader objectives. And the idea that in this moment of so much partisanship and divisiveness that the idea of the federal government as a lender and not just a spender could take root and that it is now being carefully examined and recognized as transformative — well, Move LA
really felt a sense of pride for having rolled the ball down this alley . . .”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Villaraigosa in DC for a national version of the 30/10 plan

Tim Rutten on America Fast Forward: Mayor Villaraigosa's transportation innovation -

Denny Zane, Marlene Grossman and Drusiano Solari Go To Washington

The Move LA team has landed in DC for the launch of America Fast Forward, the national version of LA’s 30-10 plan. Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the LA Chamber of Commerce joined them Wednesday morning for a meeting with eight US DOT officials, including Assistant Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Assistant Secretary Joel Szabat. They report US DOT is very enthusiastic about both 30-10 and America Fast Forward, and that they said the bipartisan support that has developed will be key to success in moving legislation forward in Congress. Move LA has been helping to gather signatures from both Republican and Democratic mayors who support America Fast Forward and are in key Congressional districts; more than 100 mayors have signed on.

The Move LA team will be joined by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LA Metro Board Member Richard Katz for lunch in the Senate dining room, where they will be greeted by Senator Barbara Boxer before heading to the America Fast Forward press conference in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing room. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce will be at the press conference as well as Boxer and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL).

America Fast Forward, like 30-10, is focused on leveraging transportation projects at the state and local levels, and would do so through tax code incentives and credit assistance. The legislative proposal includes Qualified Transportation Improvements Bonds and enhanced funding for the TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) program.

In addition to Trottenberg and Szabat, other US DOT officials in the Wednesday morning meeting were Therese McMillan, Karen Rae and Gregory Nadeau, deputy administrators, and Robert Mariner from the Office of the Secretary, and Sabrina Sussman, assistant to Trottenberg.

More to come!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Move LA applauds Metrolink’s recent decision to provide express service between LA’s Union Station and San Bernardino. The 2010 Census data shows San Bernardino and Riverside counties experienced by far the fastest growth of any metropolitan area in California, and the Inland Empire is the fourth-fastest growing region in the U.S. — behind Raleigh, Las Vegas and Austin. Faster service between San Bernardino and downtown Los Angeles — travel times have been reduced from 90 to 60 minutes — suggest the potential for linking downtown LA with Southern California’s eastern counties to support more sustainable transit-oriented growth in the near future.

Completion of the 12 Measure R rail lines, hopefully within the next decade, will strengthen the transit links between downtown LA’s Union Station and jobs and destinations throughout LA County — making downtown LA an even more desirable place to live and do business than it already is and boosting the importance of already-busy Union Station. Rail links could be strengthened to both San Bernardino and Riverside, and eventually connect to Ontario Airport in San Bernardino County — an important regional airport for cargo and passengers, and a resource many regard as key to San Bernardino County’s economic and job future.

County sales tax measures in both San Bernardino and Riverside counties are focused mostly on highway projects but important transit investments are planned. These include an extension of Metrolink into downtown San Bernardino (the existing station is a mile west of downtown), a light rail line from San Bernardino to Loma Linda, a medical center and site of Loma Linda University, and to Redlands, an historic and artsy town that is home to the University of Redlands. 
Riverside is served by three Metrolink lines (Riverside, San Bernardino and the Inland Empire-Orange County lines), and a Metrolink extension is planned to Perris and to Hemet in the fast-growing San Jacinto Valley.

There is untapped potential for transit-oriented development in both downtown San Bernardino and in Riverside’s pedestrian-friendly downtown, which is adjacent to the dramatic and historic Mission Inn and numerous surface parking lots that could be redeveloped. And there is tremendous development potential in the City of Ontario and around the airport, as well as in other cities along Metrolink's lines. 
Almost every city along the planned Metrolink extensions and light rail line have already completed station area plans in anticipation of the transit projects.

The Inland Empire’s fortunes have declined dramatically since the 2008 national mortgage debacle and recession, and foreclosure and unemployment rates are among the highest in the nation, caused in part by declines in housing and construction, an accelerated decline in manufacturing and a weakening in the logistics, warehousing, distribution and wholesale trade industries. Nonethess San Bernardino and especially Riverside County are expected to remain the locus of growth in Southern California.

Transit and transit-oriented development are the key to making this growth more sustainable and connecting people to jobs and opportunity throughout the region, with the goal of reducing congestion, improving air quality and creating a stronger regional economy!