Mobility 21’s Top 12 Transportation

Moments of 2012

This year, Mobility 21 continued to expand its network to help bring investment to Southern California’s transportation system. With your help, we influenced important legislation and celebrated several milestone moments:

  1. Mobility 21’s advocacy resulted in key policy points incorporated in the long-awaited federal transportation bill, MAP-21, namely the inclusion of a national freight movement policy, the Breaking Down Barriers initiative and the expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) for credit-worthy projects.
  2. Mobility 21 successfully advocated for Senate Bill 1225 to bring local control and better service to the Los Angels-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) corridor, the nation’s second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor.
  3. Mobility 21 supported the release of Proposition 1A funds to help improve commuter rail in Southern California for projects like the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project connecting three light rail lines through downtown Los Angeles, railroad grade separations on State College Boulevard, Ball Road and Orangethorpe Avenue in Orange County and two critical railroad grade separations in Riverside County.
  4. Mobility 21 supported Southern California’s U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant applications, resulting in grant allocations for the Riverside Freeway (SR-91) in Riverside County and rail enhancements at the Port of Long Beach.
  5. Mobility 21 supported the nomination of Yvonne Braithwaite Burke to the Amtrak Board of Directors. If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the only board member from west of the Mississippi.
  6. Mobility 21’s Annual Transportation Summit drew 900 transportation leaders and professionals at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim Sept. 28, including high-ranking federal officials Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA).
  7. Mobility 21 held federal and state briefings in all seven Southern California counties to educate legislative staff members on our region’s transportation priorities.
  8. Mobility 21 co-hosted the Rail~Volution Welcome Reception with Metro for more than 800 transportation professionals from across the nation.
  9. Mobility 21 launched a mobile website for users to send legislative action alert emails and access information about the coalition while on the go.
  10. Southern California’s metropolitan planning organizations — the Southern California Association of Governments and the San Diego Association of Governments — adopted Regional Transportation Plans to establish a long-term blueprint for our region’s transportation system.
  11. Mobility 21 was recognized as the Organization of the Year by the California Transportation Foundation and Employer of the Year by WTS Inland Empire.
  12. Executive Director Marnie O’Brien Primmer was named Woman of the Year by WTS Orange County and named Chair of the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates.

During the 2012 Mobility 21 Summit, Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) addressed how the absence of a sustainable plan for federal funding is hurting transportation.

New House Transportation & Infrastructure

Chairman Shuster on Committee’s Next Steps

Recently named Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) shares his thoughts on future funding options for transportation and the importance of goods movement with Mobility 21.

M21: In this era of fiscal challenges, what are some of the long-term funding options for transportation?

BS: Without significant improvements to the national transportation network and additional reforms to federal programs, transportation risks becoming increasingly inefficient and unreliable, hurting our economy and the ability to remain competitive in the world as well as causing Americans to waste more time stuck in congestion. With the Highway Trust Fund facing its own version of a “fiscal cliff,” in the coming years the ultimate question will be how to appropriately fund our infrastructure programs. Answering this important question will require working together and listening to a diverse set of opinions to create consensus. It is too early to rule any options in or out or to draw lines in the sand.

M21: We hear so often about gridlock in Congress. What are some of the areas of strongest bipartisan agreement on transportation policy in Washington, D.C.?

BS: Transportation is not an inherently partisan issue. There is an old saying that there are no Republican or Democrat roads or bridges. I think that saying has been around for so long because it’s true. There is broad agreement, in particular among members of the Transportation Committee, that Transportation is one of the most critical issues we face in Congress and as a nation. Transportation is important. It’s about people and how they live their lives. How they get to work, get their children to school, go to stores to buy food, clothing and other necessities, and how they visit family and friends. It’s also about business. One need only to look at our Interstate Highway System to see how investment in our national transportation network has benefited our nation and spawned tremendous economic growth. And it is about America. Our national transportation system binds us together as a nation. As President Eisenhower observed, without the unifying force of transportation, “we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.” We won’t always agree, but when we disagree we can do so without being disagreeable and in order to be successful we must work together.

M21: The inclusion of a national freight movement policy in MAP-21 was a significant step in improving our nation’s economic engine. Will Congress look to include dedicated freight funding in the next federal transportation bill? 

BS: The efficient movement of freight is one of the keys to a strong economy. Goods movement is a top priority and is a critical part of how the supply chain functions, how raw materials get to factories, how finished products get to markets, how food gets from farms to our kitchens and how energy products move from production areas to consuming areas. An efficient national transportation network allows businesses to lower transportation costs, which lowers production costs and enhances productivity and profits. It allows American businesses to be competitive in the global marketplace and for our economy to prosper and grow. MAP-21 requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a national freight strategic plan, to gather additional freight-related transportation data and to establish a primary freight highway network that identifies the roads and bridges that carry most of our nation’s freight. As the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee begins to work on reauthorizing the surface transportation programs, we will review the work that DOT was required to complete in MAP-21 and will work closely with stakeholders and the American public on addressing these important issues.

M21: What role do you see the federal government playing in supporting regions that bear the brunt of the nation’s goods movement sector?

BS: Our national surface, air and water transportation systems impact every American every single day. A modern, efficient and safe transportation network is necessary for a strong, growing economy. The importance of our nation’s infrastructure has long been recognized as a federal responsibility shared with the states. Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, argued the three essential duties of government are to provide security, preserve justice and erect and maintain public works to facilitate commerce. Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of connecting our country through effective trade and communication with transportation and infrastructure. The Articles of Confederation failed in large part because there was no way for Congress to regulate commerce between the states. The Founders remedied this by clearly tasking Congress with fulfilling this obligation in the Constitution. Proudly, it has long been a Republican tradition to take this obligation seriously—from President Lincoln’s support for the transcontinental railroad, to President Teddy Roosevelt’s construction of the Panama Canal, to President Eisenhower’s establishment of the Interstate Highway System. Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that supports economic growth and global competitiveness. Working together in the 113th Congress, the Transportation Committee will continue that work by focusing on strengthening America’s transportation networks to make us more efficient, more competitive and more prosperous.

Mobility 21 Executive Director Marnie O’Brien Primmer receives the Woman of the Year award from WTS Orange County, crediting her personal growth and professional connections to her membership to the all-volunteer organization led by Denise Casad, this year’s president.

Mobility 21 and TCA Honored

During WTS-OC Annual Gala

More than 200 members of Orange County’s premier transportation professional association celebrated the progress of women in the field at a special awards and scholarship event this month.

The Orange County Chapter of WTS awarded Mobility 21 Executive Director Marnie O’Brien Primmer with the organization’s top honor, the Woman of the Year Award, for her tireless work in protecting and increasing transportation investment for Southern California. Primmer credits her decade-long membership of the all-volunteer organization for her personal growth and professional connections.

“WTS has made me a better-rounded individual, and my WTS membership has given more value to the businesses and organizations I’ve had the privilege of working for,” Marnie said. “I am honored to receive this award and look forward to living up to its high standard as I continue to work hard to make a difference in other professionals’ careers as many others have helped me.”

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), one of Mobility 21‘s 18 advisory partners, was also recognized for outstanding contributions to transportation in 2012. TCA was awarded with the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award for the creation of their mobile phone application. This app is the first of its kind in the nation, allowing FasTrak account holders access to the same account and customer service features they find on The Toll Roads’ website. Approximately 33,000 Toll Roads customers have downloaded the app.

TCA Chief of Staff Bill Burger received the President’s Award for his leadership of WTS Orange County’s student outreach programs. Burger led a five-day course called the Transportation Academy that taught students what it takes to build, finance and manage infrastructure in Southern California. Students participated in classroom-style lectures and interactive tours at nine agencies covering a variety of transportation topics including buses, rail, toll operations, ports and airports.

Chair of the California Transportation Commission Joseph Tavaglione is joined by Anne Mayer, Executive Director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission and Vice Chair of Mobility 21, and Bimla Rhinehart, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission, during a dedication ceremony.

Downtown Riverside Metrolink Station

Dedicated to Joseph Tavaglione

From RCTC’s On The Move

In recognition of his long-term dedication to improving transportation locally and statewide, the Riverside-Downtown Station was dedicated to Joseph Tavaglione on Dec. 5. Tavaglione was appointed to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in 2002 and currently serves as Chair. During his tenure on the CTC, projects that received state funding include the extension of Interstate 210, the expansion of the 60/91/215 interchange, the Perris Valley Line commuter rail extension, and numerous freeway projects — which most recently included the widening of I-215.

SCAG Economic Summit Addresses

Cost of Transportation Project Delay

From The OCBC Indicator

Several Mobility 21 members joined 200 business and civic leaders at the Third Annual Economic Summit, hosted by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), to develop a plan for solving California’s economic issues, tackling jobs creation and re-energizing the state’s economy. The summit included a discussion about the economic benefits of accelerating transportation project delivery by five years, which include:

  • The creation of 102,143 new jobs each year;
  • Reduction in travel time, emissions, fuel consumption, and vehicle operating costs, leading to anadditional 83,654 jobs per year;
  • Decrease in construction costs by $1.25-1.95 billion, or 5-9 percent of constructions costs. These savings can be reinvested in additional transportation infrastructure and services.

Currently, transportation projects face hurdles to fast project delivery methods, including funding availability, the environmental review process, and other uncertainties such as agency coordination. Opportunities exist for streamlining transportation project delivery–which currently takes about 17 years–including OCTA’s Breaking Down Barriers legislation and modernizing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). SCAG’s 2013 legislative priorities tackle this very issue by supporting legislation aimed directly at modernizing CEQA, and process reform that allows for faster project delivery and the creation of jobs.

In the past few years, Metro has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, expand the renewable energy it generates and boasts the largest clean fuel bus fleet in the nation.

Metro Lauded in Federal

‘Leaner and Greener’ Report

Metro has been singled out in a new report, “Leaner and Greener,” by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, as a prime example of a transportation agency putting sustainability at the forefront.

During the past few years, Metro has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, expanded the renewable energy it generates, assembled the largest clean fuel bus fleet in the nation and become the first transit agency in the U.S. to adopt a Green Construction Policy to reduce emissions from construction equipment. And all Metro facilities larger than 10,000 square feet are required to be certified at a LEED Silver Level certification.

Metro currently gets about 20 percent of the total energy the agency consumes from renewable sources, including 2.2 megawatts created annually from solar panels on Metro properties (a megawatt can typically power 200+ homes for a year). The agency is exploring the use of other renewables such as wind and bio-gas in order to reach a goal of 33 percent renewable energy use by 2020.

As for greenhouse gases, since 2007, Metro has lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by five percent within its own facilities. The reduction is as much as 92 percent when including emissions reductions resulting from motorists switching to Metro’s transit system. Transit is often more emissions efficient than vehicles with a single occupant.

What does all this mean for riders?

From a financial perspective, the upfront costs of Metro’s environmental efforts are expected to be recovered through savings within five years — and then continue to save money well into the future.

On a more philosophical level, the numbers show that in many ways Metro is getting greener. For many riders, being green is an important consideration when choosing to take transit — and those riders can rest assured that Metro is trying to reward their faith on a number of fronts.

Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency

Provides Native Habitat for Federally Protected Wildlife

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) received verification from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the 241, 261 and 133 Toll Road side slopes met the requirements listed in the project’s biological opinions. Specifically, TCA successfully revegetated 194.25 acres of side slopes along the project with coastal sage scrub. These acres provide habitat for more than 39 federally protected coastal California gnatcatchers, as well as several other wildlife species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued two biological opinions that addressed the effects of the construction of the 241, 261 and 133 Toll Roads on the federally-threatened coastal California gnatcatcher. The coastal California gnatcatcher is a small blue-gray songbird that uses coastal sage scrub for foraging, nesting, rearing of young, roosting and shelter.

The biological opinions required TCA to revegetate 170 acres of coastal sage scrub  along the roadway slopes, which TCA exceeded by nearly 25 acres. The goal of the revegetation program is to provide self-sustaining habitat that is similar in vegetation and species as would appear in a mature scrub community.  Today, numerous gnatcatchers have found a permanent home along the Toll Road side slopes.

Transportation Events in the Community

Sunday, Jan. 13
WTS/TRB: Winter Reception
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Thursday, Jan. 24
WTS-IE: Annual Scholarship & Awards Gala
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Tuesday, Jan. 29
CTF Transportation Forum
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Thursday, Jan. 31
CMAA: Owners’ Night
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Thursday, Jan. 31
OCBC: Annual Dinner
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Friday, Feb. 1
Move LA: Annual Transportation Conversation

Wednesday, Feb. 6
ACEC-LA: California High-Speed Rail Authority Project Update
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Feb. 20-21
California Maritime Leadership Symposium
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Promo code: PartnerM21

May 2-3
SCAG: Regional Conference & General Assembly
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June 24-27
Alternative Clean Technology Expo: Washington, D.C.
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Tuesday, Oct. 29
Mobility 21: 2013 Summit at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live