December 15, 2005 - From the December, 2005 issue

MIR Readers Voice Their Infrastructure Funding Priorities for 2006

If California had $200 billion to spare, it would not need to set priorities for funding infrastructure improvements. Unfortunately, a tight budget coincides with a growing population, increasing foreign trade, and roads, ports, levees, and water systems in dire need of upgrade. With this situation in mind, MIR asked its readers to suggest which of California's many concerns should rise to the top of its list of priorities. MIR is pleased to present the thoughts of a distinguished and diverse pool of respondents who answered the question, "What must be done in 2006 to begin to meet the state's transportation and disaster preparedness infrastructure needs?"

Zev Yaroslavsky

"Transportation would be my top priority. Moving people around our region more efficiently, building on our successes to date. I would expand the Orange Line concept, which in less than two months of operation across the San Fernando Valley has nearly tripled its initial ridership projections. We should extend the Metro Red Line subway west of Western under Wilshire Boulevard. We need to ensure completion of the Expo light-rail line to Santa Monica. I want to see us extend the Green Line to the airport. And I would continue work on the Crenshaw Bus Rapid Transit program."

Zev Yaroslavsky

L.A. County Supervisor

Just as Pat Brown thought in big terms and planned big projects in the early ‘60s (most of our freeway system and the peripheral canal), so must we think and plan in 2006. Fortunately, the financial markets currently thirst for new California tax exempt bonds. It's time we quenched that thirst and starting building for the future.

David Fleming

Latham & Watkins

MTA Boardmember

"Unfortunately, the issue of infrastructure does not usually hit the front page until it literally collapses, often after years of both warning and neglect. California's New Year Resolution should be to learn a valuable lesson from the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and move infrastructure planning and investment to the top of the State's priority list immediately."

Wallace Walrod

Orange County Business Council

"Those in positions of leadership will have to actually demonstrate their leadership. We must prioritize, fund, and implement those projects which have the greatest near-term prospects to provide real economic growth, which in turn will provide the growth in tax revenues we need to implement the rest of the projects we have put off for far too long."

Bill Allen

Incoming President, LAEDC

"California ranks 46th as a place for business and 46th for education quality. Businesses say that their key issues are: lack of qualified job candidates, California's business climate and transportation. What has changed over the past ten years? Can we believe that the legislature will tackle these issues in 2006?"

Joe Aro

Executive Director

South Bay Economic Partnership

"It's imperative that Southern Californians works together as a region in order to understand and provide for its collective needs. Cities and counties are not islands and the solutions to their problems are often the same. We are all interdependent, interconnected and competing for the same limited share of resources that, more than ever before, have to be applied to the highest and best possible use."

Joanne Kozberg

California Strategies


"2006 is a ‘make or break' year for California. Billions of dollars of private capital is searching for viable infrastructure investments in the United States. California has no shortage of needs. If we fail at the state level to adopt a framework for the private sector to participate, those investments will go elsewhere. My fervent hope is that common ground and common sense will prevail. The time is now."

Kathleen Brown

Former California State Treasurer

"California's leaders must do more than "slow the bleeding" with regard to transportation infrastructure funding and delivery. For funding, a comprehensive approach that focuses on both public and private sources of funding and finance, coupled with ensuring sustainability of our public funding is critical. Passing a $5 billion or even $20 billion bond measure is only a band-aid if reform of the funding and delivery system is not part of the solution."

David Grannis

President, Planning Company Associates

Throwing money at the problem is not the whole answer. Local governments must think about the connections between land use and transportation. Regarding disasters, if local governments would curtail the siting of homes in high fire hazard areas, it would save lives and money.

Dan Silver

Endagered Habitats League

"Finish the priority projects underway, not yet completed; fully fund and finish priority projects started and stalled by underfunding; use bond funds already OK'd but not yet sold before selling new bonds; restore owed annual funds to cities, counties, and school districts before selling new bonds and hiking up taxes!"

David Wilcox, AICP

Sr. Vice President, ERA

"To make a noticeable difference, policymakers must think big but be prepared to say no to the many constituents seeking gifts under the infrastructure Christmas tree. At the same time, business and other civic leaders must help convince a skeptical public to buy into the solutions."

Brendan Huffman

Director of Public Policy

L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce

"Now that Los Angeles World Airports has settled the litigation over the LAX Master Plan Program, it needs to begin building the South Runway reconfiguration as soon as possible in 2006 and then needs to find acceptable substitutes for the controversial ‘yellow light' projects, so as to bring LAX into the 21st century."

Carlyle Hall

Aikin Gump


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