Blog

Forward Motion, January 2022



Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Adam Halpin
Intelligent Rail Solutions North America Leader
Arcadis

Adam has over 14 years of experience specializing in the development and execution of transportation infrastructure projects. He has more than 14 years of project and construction management experience across the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. His experience working for the Owner, Contractor, and Design Consultant on a broad range of projects in the transportation and natural resources sectors provide a valuable perspective in the planning, development and delivery of complex, multi-disciplinary projects. He serves as Arcadis’ North American Leader – Rail and Urban Transportation and Alternative Delivery expert.


Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
John Engstrom, P.E.
Regional Manager for California Infrastructure
Bechtel

John Engstrom is Bechtel’s regional manager for California. In this role, he manages people, projects, and customer relationships – continuing the organization’s long-standing presence in the Golden State.

John joined Bechtel in 1995 as a field engineer for the Boston Central Artery Tunnel Project and subsequently held roles of increasing responsibility worldwide. Focused primarily on transportation projects, John’s experience includes the Muscat International Airport, Romania Motorway, Riverside County Transportation Commission, and Santa Clara County’s Bay Area Rapid Transit extension, which opened for riders in 2020.

In addition, John held roles outside of Bechtel, working as a general engineering contractor building infrastructure projects in Northern California and overseeing project development and estimating for new work.

John earned two bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University, civil engineering and English, and a master’s degree in construction engineering and management from Stanford University. He is a licensed engineer in California and resides with his family in La Habra.


OCTA’s Initiatives for 2022 Focus on Equity, Transparency, Fiscal and Environmental Responsibility

In the year ahead, the Orange County Transportation Authority will focus on continuing to build a transportation network that is equitable and balanced, is fiscally conservative with taxpayer dollars, and protects the environment that makes Orange County such a special place to live.

That’s according to the 2022 Board and CEO Strategic Initiatives and Action Plan, which was unveiled during January’s board meeting by OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy, also the Mayor of Orange, and by OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson.

Each January, the newly elected chairperson works with the CEO to formulate and present the document that guides the agency’s efforts throughout the coming year. OCTA continues to prioritize safety as Orange County deals with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m extremely proud of how OCTA has adapted to meet the challenges of the public health crisis the last two years. As we move forward, it’s clear we need to remain highly adaptive to meet the transportation needs of all of Orange County,” Chairman Murphy said. “These initiatives set a solid course and I look forward to working with the rest of the board to deliver on these promises to keep Orange County moving.”

To learn more about OCTA programs and projects, visit www.octa.net.

“While we’ve never wavered from our commitment to safety throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m also very proud that we’ve focused on our future and pushed forward,” said CEO Johnson. “I feel good about our ambitious plans for the coming year and I’m confident in our ability to deliver on this innovative and balanced plan.”

The Initiatives and Action Plan include:



The Metro Board will consider approving Alternative 3 as the initial route for the project and making Union Station the eventual terminus of the light rail line.

Metro Board to Select Route and Terminus for
Light Rail Line to Southeast L.A. County

Metro is planning a new light rail line that will run between Southeast L.A. County and downtown Los Angeles known as the West Santa Ana Transit Corridor. The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled this month to select a route for the initial segment — between the city of Artesia and the A Line’s Slauson Station — and to consider L.A. Union Station as the rail line’s eventual terminus.

The Metro staff report is here.

The initial segment would include nine WSAB stations and a new C Line (Green) station at I-105 where riders can transfer to and from the C Line (Green). Riders will be able to transfer to the A Line (Blue) — which riders can take to and from downtown L.A. Metro staff is also recommending further study of the Slauson-to-Union Station segment to identify and refine a route that is  cost effective to help accelerate delivery of the project.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) for the project was released in July 2021; the report is here. Over 450 public comments were made during the 60-day comment period — when public hearings and community meetings were held.

The Board will consider this item first in the Metro Board’s Planning and Programming Committee on January 19 at 10:30 a.m. and then at the full Board meeting at 10 a.m. on January 27.

All Board meetings are live-streamed; Metro encourages the public to access the meetings online or call-in. A link to the Planning Committee will appear here shortly before the meeting begins and the link for the full Board meeting will be here shortly before the meeting starts.

To support communities that may have limited internet capabilities or technology, visit one of the locations listed below to watch a live-stream of the Jan. 27 Metro Board meeting. Safety protocols for COVID-19 will be implemented at all viewing sites. The live viewing sites will conclude once the Metro board takes action on the WSAB project. Events are subject to change and/or cancellation based on changing COVID-19 safety regulations.

To participate in the meetings, please use the information below:

Metro Planning & Programming Committee Meeting – Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 10:30 a.m.

Metro Board of Directors Meeting – Thursday, January 27, 2022, 10 a.m.

Live Public Comment Instructions

  • Live public comment can only be given by telephone. You may join the call 5 minutes prior to the start of the meeting.
  • Public comment will be taken as the board takes up each item.
  • Dial-in: 888-251-2949 and enter access code.
    • English access code: 8231160#
    • Spanish access code: 4544724#
  • Enter #2 (pound-two) when prompted. Each speaker has one minute to speak.

Metro Board meeting (Jan. 27) in-person Live Streaming Locations

Artesia – Albert O. Little Community Center, 18750 Clarkdale Av, Artesia, CA 90701 

Cerritos – Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Dr, Cerritos, CA 90703

South Gate – City Hall, Council Chambers, 8650 California Av, South Gate, CA 90280

Huntington Park – City Hall, 6550 Miles Av, Huntington Park, CA 90255

Downtown LA – St Francis Xavier Church, 222 S Hewitt St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Visit MetroWSAB.com to learn more about the project.



CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray (center) speaks at a AAA media event at the Capitol about the dangers of illegal street racing, as Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe (left) and Assemblymember Vince Fong (right) listen.

Auto Club, State, and Safety Advocates Team Up to Stop Street Racing

In 2021, the Automobile Club of Southern California worked with law enforcement, the California Legislature and safety advocates to crack down on illegal street racing. This dangerous activity skyrocketed during the beginning of the pandemic and has continued at an increased level since then.

The Auto Club created a plan to attack the issue on several fronts, including:

  • Identifying and promoting state laws that strengthen penalties for street racing.
  • Hosting media events with law enforcement and survivor advocates.
  • Publishing articles in member magazines.
  • Producing educational materials to be distributed through NHRA and NASCAR races, safety classes, community events, schools and safety partners.
  • Purchasing a car that had been damaged in a street racing crash to display at NRHA and NASCAR races
  • Sponsoring safety groups that support education and diversion programs.

Dangerous driving activities, including street racing, so-called “side shows,” and street takeovers, have surged during the pandemic. In 2020, California Highway Patrol Officers responded to 25,000 calls related to illegal street racing, a 16 percent increase from 2019.

And tragically, the results have been deadly. Not only are participants endangering themselves, they are also putting others at risk including spectators, other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Speeding kills. Recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found even modestly higher speeds at the time of a crash dramatically increase the chances of severe injury and death, and also cancel out the benefits of vehicle safety features, like airbags.

To combat the problem, the Auto Club of Southern California held media events with CHP officers, lawmakers and families who have lost loved ones to street racing activities. The events took place in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield, Northridge and at the Capitol.

In Sacramento, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray and Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Kern County) attended to highlight a new law which will crack down on street racing activities. The law, which was supported by the Auto Club and AAA in Northern California, will allow courts to issue a driver’s license suspension for up to six months to drivers who participate in dangerous sideshows.  Sideshows often lead to more serious and deadly street races.

In addition, the Auto Club sponsored a Los Angeles nonprofit group called Street Racking Kills, which helps educate teens and others about the dangers of illegal street racing. The founder, Lili Trujillo Puckett, lost her 16-year-old daughter, Valentina, when a young man driving Valentina home one night was challenged to a street race in Torrance and crashed. The sponsorship paid by the Auto Club of Southern California helped pay for teen driver education scholarships and for virtual educational classes.

Trujillo Puckett joined the Auto Club for its media events throughout the state. The combined media efforts resulted in 274 online, TV and radio stories with an audience reach of 73.4 million.


Morning traffic on westbound 91 is flowing smoothly after the opening of a new westbound lane on January 6. RCTC partnered with OCTA, TCA, Caltrans, and the City of Corona to deliver this $29 million investment.

RCTC Opens New Westbound Lane, Green River Road to 241, to Help Relieve Morning Traffic Bottleneck

RCTC started the new year on a high note with the opening of a new lane on westbound 91 on January 6. The new two-mile, non-tolled lane from the westbound Green River Road on-ramp in Corona to the 241 Toll Road in Anaheim was the centerpiece of RCTC’s 91 Corridor Operations Project. The lane is designed to improve mobility through western Riverside County, particularly for commuters who routinely battle morning traffic congestion in the area.

The Commission began construction in November 2020 using strategic project staging with financial incentives to the contractor. This allowed RCTC to complete the project in just over a year and reduce the effects of construction on motorists and neighbors.  Press play for a closer look at how this project was completed in record time and its benefit to our region.

Partners for the $29 million investment included the Orange County Transportation Authority, Caltrans, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, and the City of Corona.

Following the lane opening, additional work is required throughout January to close out the project.

The project marks one of many planned and completed along the 91 and 15 corridors to help manage traffic congestion in this growing area. RCTC continues to work with Riverside County residents on mobility solutions that connect our communities safely, reduce traffic congestion, support clean air, and promote economic prosperity in our region.

Near-term projects include the 15/91 Express Lanes Connector that is under construction now in Corona, the I-15 Interim Corridor Operations Project that is scheduled to start construction this spring, and the I-15 Corridor Operations Project, which may begin construction in 2023. To learn more about RCTC projects, visit rctc.org.


Applications Now Open for 2022 SCAG Scholarship Program!

The 2022 SCAG Scholarship Program offers a $4,000 scholarship award for seven high school seniors or community college students from the SCAG region (and potentially two additional scholarship awards that are not tied to a specific county but may be awarded at the Regional Council’s discretion) and the opportunity to meet with elected officials and practicing planners to learn more about careers in public service.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a resident within the SCAG region, enrolled as a high school senior or community college student, have at least a 3.0 GPA, and be eligible to work in the United States. Applicants must complete an online application and submit an essay, two letters of recommendation, and a current transcript. The deadline to apply for the 2022 SCAG Scholarship Program is Friday, April 1.

For more information on the SCAG Scholarship Program, visit scag.ca.gov/scholarship.


Talking SoCal Infrastructure, Innovation, Education and Housing with former OCBC President Lucy Dunn

New Podcast Episode Explores Dunn’s Accomplishments, Career and What’s Next

In this new episode of The Rebuild SoCal Zone podcast, Rebuild SoCal Partnership sits down with Lucy Dunn, former CEO and President of Orange County Business Council (OCBC), to discuss her major accomplishments, the difficult decision to retire, and what’s next in her career.

After 16 years in the role, Dunn is stepping down but says of her career, “At the end of the day, how do we make people’s lives incrementally better? What can we do to make the world a better place so that people can live more prosperously and enjoy a high quality of life?”

LISTEN NOW!

Talking infrastructure and innovation

Dunn is one of the most influential women in Orange County, if not the entire state of California. Learn more about:

  • How she was appointed by a Republican and then Democratic governor.
  • Her work with homelessness, housing, higher education, and health.
  • Thoughts on COVID-19, Mobility 21, and private sector business advocacy groups.
  • Things that align OCBC and Rebuild SoCal Partnership together.
  • What’s she’s proudest of and why she thinks Orange County is one of the best places in the world.

Click play >>HERE<< to hear more about Lucy Dunn and her impactful role as CEO and President of Orange County Business Council.


Bond Refunding Yields Significant Savings for San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency

The San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) has executed a refunding of its Series 2014A bonds, resulting in a reduction in debt service payments of $138.7 million, net of all transaction costs.

The move will not extend bond maturity dates and further strengthens the Agency’s cash position while creating additional flexibility to pay down other bonds early or invest in key capital projects.

“This transaction is another example of the SJHTCA’s commitment to fiscal stewardship in reducing debt service,” said SJHTCA Chair and Mission Viejo Mayor Trish Kelley. “We take our duties of fiscal responsibility very seriously and are pleased to be able to realize such a large savings without extending maturity dates.”

The refunding, authorized by the SJHTCA Board of Directors on Nov. 18, took advantage of current low interest rates, which provided an opportunity for the refunding of $1.05 billion of its Series 2014A bonds that are callable at par in 2025.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) have previously taken advantage of favorable market conditions — such as low interest rates — to improve the financial positions of its two Agencies and save more than $600 million in debt service payments without extending any bond maturity dates.

“We are committed to working with our elected leadership and continually seeking opportunities to bolster our creditworthiness and capitalize on low interest rates, reduce debt payments and generate cash flow,” said TCA CFO Amy Potter. “We are proud of the results of our tender and exchange offer and the successful sale of refunding bonds, which shows investor confidence in our credit.”

TCA’s other Agency, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA), completed an innovative refunding transaction in January, reducing its bond payments by $214 million, without extending any maturity dates.

Executed in January, the refunding of certain outstanding 2013A and all 2013C bonds decreased annual debt payments, resulting in a reduction in debt service payments of $214 million net of all transaction costs.

This month, that bond refunding transaction was named Deal of the Year for the Far West Region by The Bond Buyer, an independent municipal finance publication.

The SJHTCA and F/ETCA are two joint powers authorities created to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s 51-mile toll road network — the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for more than 20 years and the tolls collected are used to repay the debt incurred to construct the system and fund on-going operations and improvements.

The Toll Roads system, which represents 20% of Orange County’s highways, is the largest toll road network in California.

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