Orange County Branch Newsletter
ASCE Region 9
Civil Engineering Professionals Reimagine Tomorrow’s Infrastructure
By David M. Schwegel, PE | Arcadis
On Friday, March 29, the California Region (Region 9) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) held their Annual Infrastructure Symposium at the San Diego Convention Center with the theme “Reimagining Tomorrow’s Infrastructure”. There were approximately 200 delegates total with a fairly even distribution among the parallel Transportation and Water Tracks. Transportation Track highlights were as follows:
Session 1: Local Transportation, Technology, and Housing moderated by Domenic Lupo of AECOM localized these three topics to the San Diego Region.
- San Diego City Councilmember Mark Kersey discussed his bold infrastructure platform of repairing and enhancing City transportation infrastructure that got him elected to the City Council along with developments that are well underway.
- ASCE Region 9 Legislative Advocate Richard Markuson discussed Governor Gavin Newsom’s bold initiative of building 3.5 million housing units in California by 2025 to address the State’s severe housing crisis with special emphasis on the severity of the crisis, the lack of new housing construction that lead to the crisis, and the numerous housing bills currently going through the Legislature to address this crisis.
- San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President/CEO Dennis Probst discussed the unique engineering challenges and innovative expansion plans (terminal modernization, traffic tunnel, multi-modal integration) at one of the world’s busiest and severely capacity constrained single-runway airports.
- Mr. Mugg Stoll of SANDAG discussed the Regional Plan on Transportation, Land Use & Housing with special emphasize on the interrelationship among these three elements within a region that is characterized by steep mountain, deep valleys, and scattered water bodies.
Session 2: Mobility, Housing, & Economics in SoCal moderated by William Anderson of AECOM took a deep dive into the relationship among concepts, projects, and economics.
- Kelly Cunningham of the San Diego Institute for Economic Research presented a series of graphs illustrating how the housing and employment demographics of San Diego compare to the rest of California and the nation, while emphasizing how the high housing prices relative to incomes are not quite as severe in the San Diego region as they are in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
- Kate MacKay of Mott MacDonald offered a fascinating Australian perspective on the concept of Mobility as a Service with special emphasis on ensuring that effective policies are in place, so that the multiple elements can develop simultaneously and operate harmoniously.
- Robert James of HNTB provided success stories on smart infrastructure innovations in New York City and their practicality to other parts of the nation. Among the hot topics currently under discussion in Manhattan is congestion pricing such as what’s currently in place in many European cities.
- Darrell Johnson, CEO of OCTA reinforced the importance of roadway, rail, and transit projects alike in enhancing mobility throughout the heavily populated and predominantly car-oriented Orange County. Of special emphasis is the Orange County streetcar project in the fairly densely populated City of Santa Ana.
Session 3: The Big Picture on Jobs, Housing, & Mobility moderated by Bethany Dawa of TY Lin International offered a multi-modal perspective on innovations currently underway in SoCal.
- Steve Schibuola of the IBI Group provided an overview of the San Ysidro Intermodal Transportation Center Study, presenting multi-modal transportation solutions for addressing congestion challenges at the world’s busiest land border crossing.
- John Haggarty of SANDAG presented the Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project currently under construction with special emphasis on its relationship to Amtrak’s LOSSAN Corridor and the Coaster Rail Service.
- Allan Kosup of Caltrans District 11 emphasized the importance of multi-modal solutions (roadway, rail, transit) interacting harmoniously to provide congestion relief within the severely capacity constrained Interstate 5 Corridor within North San Diego County
- Joshua Schank of LA Metro discussed some of the extraordinary innovations to address near-term (Aerial Tramway concept between LA Union Station and Dodger Stadium by 2022) and long-term (ITS developments and transit expansions by the 2028 Olympics) transportation challenges within the LA Region.
Session 4: Creative Funding to Advance Housing & Mobility moderated by Bethany Dawa of TY Lin International explored economics topics such as SB 1 and shifting financing priorities to better address environmental challenges.
- SANDAG CEO Hasan Ikhrata reinforced the value of SB 1 to the San Diego Region while underscoring the important roles that efficient, innovative, and multi-tasking millennials bring to the region’s transportation system of tomorrow.
- Deanna Spehn, Policy Director for Senate Speaker Toni Atkins provided her own personal story of growing up in the Los Angeles Region in the 1980’s where significant air pollution challenges posed severe constraints on health and quality of life. She emphasized policies underway in Senator Toni Atkins’ office for incentivizing transportation innovations such as electric vehicle-use for cleaning up the air.
- Commissioner Jim Madaffer discussed his own experience of owning an electric vehicle (EV), the joy of turning on his EV first thing in the morning with the dashboard showing a 350-mile range, cashing in on incentives at the Federal and State level, and establishing a stronger “nexus” between funding mechanisms and environmentally-friendly transportation solutions.
- I emphasized the importance of expediting the completion of a usable high-speed rail segment to a major population center in order to generate ridership revenue and attract private investment, and the value of environmental clearance and full right-of-way acquisition for the expedited completion of the proposed Brightline project between Southern California and Las Vegas.
To take a deeper dive into the complete transportation system topic with emphasis on the rail perspective for getting Los Angeles ready for the 2028 Olympics, check out http://www.ushsr.com/events/losangeles2019.html.
For additional coverage of the 2019 Symposium in San Diego and information on the upcoming 2020 Symposium in Sacramento, check out www.caisregion9.org.