Those of us who live in the San Fernando Valley know firsthand the frustration caused by sitting in traffic and driving on roadways and bridges that need repairs or replacement. In a major step forward for California, 6,500 transportation projects statewide are underway with $5 billion in annual funding dedicated to mass transit to ease traffic jams, fix local streets, roads, bridges, tunnels and overpasses.
This essential funding source, however, is under attack. Proposition 6 on the November ballot seeks to repeal SB-1, the source of funding for those 6,500 projects funded in its first year of existence. The projects represent tangible improvements to our communities. Proposition 6 halts this progress and limits future opportunities to assure a safe and reliable transportation system for the Valley and all of California. The measure is short-sighted because it denies current and future generations the repairs to existing transportation facilities and prevents new transportation alternatives, resulting in more traffic and pollution that our children will inherit.
We travel on some of the most congested corridors in the country with a backlog of billions of dollars of deferred road and bridge maintenance. I am unaware of anyone who believes that their commute to work is relaxing or comfortable. Living in the Valley, we commute to business centers throughout the region and lose hundreds of hours of quality time annually through traffic delays.
By voting No on Proposition 6, we’ll maintain the funding that has resulted in 6,500 transportation projects that are not only improving our highways and making them safer, but also reducing congestion and enhancing our quality of life. Identifying and investing in transit solutions is critical, given current conditions and enhanced when we consider that Los Angeles is set to host the 2028 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Los Angeles County projects Proposition 6 would eliminate include:
• 303 projects fixing potholes and repaving roads
• 50 traffic congestion relief projects
• 281 projects improving safety of local roads and bridges
• 51 safety improvement projects for pedestrians and bicyclists
In the Valley, road safety projects, including bridge and overpass upgrades to make them seismically safe and structurally sound, would be eliminated. None of us want to experience the aftermath of the 1994 earthquake when several ramps and aerial structures were destroyed. Incorporating modern engineering measures can prevent a recurrence.
Other projects designed to ease congestion, repair potholes and improve public transportation would also be eliminated under Proposition 6.
Unfunded maintenance needs will continue to grow until our transportation system breaks down. Delaying repairs will cost much more in future years. Thus, by saving a dime today, we will ask our children to spend a dollar in the future. That is not the legacy we want, nor future generations deserve.
Proposition 6 will create funding shortfalls for Valley Metro projects including:
• The Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit Improvements Project that provides safe and cost-effective strategies to improve operating speeds, capacity and safety, while addressing passenger needs and minimizing disruption to residents for a system that serves more than 24,000 riders daily.
• The 9.2-mile East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor will include 14 new stations and travel in the median of Van Nuys Boulevard before turning northwest on Metro-owned rail right-of-way adjacent to San Fernando Road.
• The Orange/Red Line-to-Gold line transit corridor, which is an extension of the Orange Line and offers connections to Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena. It would connect the North Hollywood Red Line Station to the Del Mar Gold Line station providing a seamless link from the Valley to the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles.
Lives are at stake when we fail to fund road safety improvement. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,600 fatalities occurred on California roads in 2016, with many of them caused by poor road conditions. Traffic deaths in Los Angeles County totaled 244 people in 2017. Eliminating funding earmarked specifically to repair and add safety improvements is not acceptable.
Proposition 6 will also take its toll on jobs. If transit projects are delayed or canceled, thousands of jobs will be eliminated, impacting working families and our local economy.
A steady stream of funding is vital to improve our current infrastructure, and we must invest in new transportation solutions to solve the traffic, air quality and transportation safety challenges we face. We have this moment in time to improve the transportation infrastructure to meet the current and future needs of the Valley. Vote NO on Proposition 6.
Art Hadnett is president of HNTB Corp.’s West Division, located in downtown Los Angeles. HNTB is an employee-owned firm that provides architecture, engineering, planning and construction services. Hadnett was born in the San Fernando Valley and has lived here more than 30 years.