"Highway and transportation issues are critical to California's economy and its citizens' everyday lives. I believe we must continue to improve roads and highways to reduce congestion and increase driver safety. Yet it is equally important that we invest in transportation alternatives, such as light rail, which are increasingly necessary in our growing region and will help reduce greenhouse gases." -- Rep. Adam Schiff
Transportation Funding as a Way to Create Jobs and Improve Mobility
In February 2009, Rep. Schiff supported the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (H.R.1), also known as the Stimulus, to create jobs and get our economy moving again. One of the major pillars of the stimulus package is infrastructure spending which will quickly create jobs while rebuilding the nation's transportation networks. The Stimulus is expected to create or save 3.5 million jobs nationwide, including 7,700 jobs in the 29th Congressional District alone.
The funding package allocated a total of $48 billion for "shovel ready" national highway investments, public transportation, and high speed rail. Los Angeles County is expected to receive roughly $500 million for transit related projects and around $300 million in highway funding, while each individual city in the 29th Congressional District will be allocated several million dollars each, depending on population size. You can find more information about stimulus spending at www.Recovery.gov.
Expanding Metro Gold Line
Since serving in the California State legislature, Congressman Schiff has worked to promote and develop viable public transportation alternatives that will not only benefit riders, but also have a positive impact on our congestion and environmental problems. During his tenure in the California State Senate Rep. Schiff introduced legislation that created the Gold Line Construction Authority, which was built on time and under budget. The Gold Line conserves energy and reduces pollution - 1.5 million gallons of gasoline each year and an estimated 4 tons of carbon monoxide respectively.
In November, 2008, residents in Los Angeles County overwhelmingly approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase, to make significant infrastructure and transportation investments in the County. Congressman Schiff has advocated for funding to be allocated early and quickly to the Gold Line Foothill Extension, which is the only shovel-ready transit project in the region, with the hope it can create much-needed jobs now and begin operation as early as 2013.
Closing the 710 Freeway Gap
As the representative of communities both for and against completion of the 710 freeway, Congressman Schiff has endeavored to find transportation solutions that make sense for the entire district. Within the last couple years, a new option has emerged as a potentially viable solution to traffic congestion in this area. Tunneling technology has advanced to the point where it may be technologically feasible to use here, at a cost comparable to conventional construction technologies. Advancements in the design and technology of tunneling have made a proposed tunnel project a possible alternative for the 710 Freeway.
Through the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFE TEA-LU), Rep. Schiff requested funding for a study to evaluate a tunnel alternative to close the 710 Freeway gap in Southern California. This study would provide information about the technological and economic feasibility of such a tunnel and would consider all potential routes to close the gap. $2.4 million was included in the final version of the bill that was signed into law on August 10, 2005. Rep. Schiff has done all he can to ensure the study, which is expected to be complete Fall 2009, is being conducted in a way that considers all potential tunneling routes and that does not assume pre-existing plans are the only or best alternatives. This study should help determine whether the elusive common ground after all these years may be underground.
Making our Railroads Safer
Train safety has been a priority of Congressman Schiff's for several years. Unfortunately, our community knows the tragic effects of train collisions after the 2005 Glendale crash and the more recent Metrolink crash in Chatsworth. To better address safety issues, I introduced the Rail Collision Prevention Act (H.R. 6973) to prevent future tragedies. This law requires commuter railroads and major freight railroads that share a track to implement positive train control systems, requires the installation of these systems on all other passenger rail lines and rail lines used to transport hazardous materials, and authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to assess fines up to $100,000 on rail carriers that fail to comply.
Positive train control is used to correct human error. Digital communications are combined with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to monitor train speeds and locations. This system detects excessive speed, improperly aligned switches, whether trains are on the wrong track, unauthorized train movements, and whether trains have missed signals to slow or stop. If engineers do not comply with signals, the system automatically brings the trains to a stop. The provisions in The Rail Collision Prevention Act were included in the Railroad safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2095), which was signed into law by the president on October 16, 2008.