Orange County Branch Newsletter

July/August 2016

Region 9 Transportation Committee

Region 9 Transportation Committee Gains Four Perspectives on the Statewide Transportation Picture


By: Lee Provost, PE and David Schwegel, PE

On Thursday June 30, 2016, eight members of the Region 9 Transportation Committee participated in a Legislative Day near the state Capitol in Sacramento.  ASCE Community representatives included: Ken Rosenfield, Ken Bui, Tapas Dutta, Steven King, and Josue Vaglienty from Orange County, and Lee Provost and David Schwegel from Sacramento. A special thank you goes out to Legislative Advocate attendee Richard Markuson. Richard arranged four office visits to gain perspectives on the statewide transportation picture as the State Legislature gets ready to deliberate on a transportation funding package in August. These perspectives included the Transportation California (nonprofit), the California High Speed Rail Authority, the Legislative Analysts Office, and the Assembly Transportation Committee.

Transportation California Executive Director Will Kempton

Will Kempton spoke about Senator Beall’s, Assemblyman Fraizer and the Governor’s transportation funding and reform proposals, as well as the road user charge (RUC) and cap and trade revenues.  With major revenue not expected for another five years, the RUC is a long-term, but not an immediate transportation funding solution. The long-term intention is for the RUC to be a replacement of, the Gas Excise Tax, which no can no longer completely fund needed transportation projects.  (Overall gas tax increases are unpopular with voters).  For more information on Transportation California, go to http://www.transportationca.com. For more information on ACEC, go to www.acec-ca.org.

California High Speed Rail Authority Chief Engineer Scott Jarvis and Engineering Manager Randy Anderson

Mr. Jarvis gave an overview of California High Speed Rail Authority (HSR) project including current work in the Fresno area.  Construction on the $64 billion project has been underway since January 2015 with noticeable construction activity with regard to viaducts, grade separations, and freeway relocations between Fresno and Madera. The 2016 Business Plan submitted to the Legislature in early May proposes an initial operating Valley to Valley (San Jose to Bakersfield) segment with identified funding sources. Accessing the Los Angeles Basin, the state’s largest population center, continues to be a high priority. This entails traversing the seismic-prone Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains posing unique engineering challenges for constructing lengthy 15-20-mile-long tunnels rivaling those overseas. The Authority was intrigued by ASCE’s involvement with the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and the Envision Rating System, where HSR projects were identified among the numerous examples of sustainable transportation infrastructure. For more information on the HSR including the 2016 Business Plan and the Expressions of Interest received from 36 engineering firms worldwide, go to www.hsr.ca.gov.  

Legislative Analyst Office Director of Oversight Jessica Peters and Caltrans Analyst Paul Jacobs

The Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) evaluates the financial efficiency of programs and recommends efficiency improvement measures to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used in the most cost effective manner. Ms. Peters discussed transparency, accountability and the opportunity to correct weak project level oversight. For more information on the LAO, go to www.lao.ca.gov.

Assembly Transportation Committee Consultant Janet Dawson

Janet Dawson serves as the Consultant to the Assembly Transportation Committee, working closely with Committee Chair Jim Frazier. Chairman Frazier has proposed a Transportation Funding Proposal (AB 1591) with an estimated total annual funding increase of $7 billion. Senator Beall, Mr. Frazier’s counterpart in the Senate, has a related Transportation Funding Proposal (SBX1 1) with an estimated annual funding increase of $6.4 billion. Consultant Dawson is optimistic that both AB 1591 and SBX1 1 can be interwoven into a package that is acceptable by two-thirds of the Legislators for August.  For more information on the Assembly Transportation Committee, go to http://atrn.assembly.ca.gov.  For more information on the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, go to http://stran.senate.ca.gov

Next Steps for ASCE

ASCE Members are encouraged to discuss the statewide transportation picture with their colleagues and encourage action as decision makers, to formulate a transportation package that will be in agreement with at least two thirds of the Legislators to ensure passage. Opportunities for action include: (1) following the progress of the transportation package through the Legislature in August, (2) responding to Key Alerts from ASCE so that letters can automatically be sent to Legislators to expedite the approval of the transportation package, and (3) testifying at hearings by reinforcing ASCE’s infrastructure expertise and commitment to providing cost effective infrastructure solutions to boost the quality of life for our state’s citizens.

Let’s Fix California’s Infrastructure!

Share the Report Card with your elected officials now to let them know fixing California’s infrastructure should be a priority.  Click on the ASCE website “Save America’s Infrastructure: Let’s Fix California’s Infrastructure” located at:  http://cqrcengage.com/asce/app/write-a-letter?3&engagementId=82235

 

Thank you!