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Friday, Jun 2, 2023

Valley Congressmen Put Priority on Transportation Funds

Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman made use of the House of Representatives hiatus to update VICA’s membership on significant legislation during this past year, and provided some insight as to their priorities in the next session in a meeting earlier this month. Since traffic jams are as much of a problem for federal representatives as they are for local elected officials, both Congressmen made sure to highlight their successes in securing money for road improvements. Berman, who announced $130 million in federal funding to construct a carpool lane on the Northbound San Diego Freeway, was introduced by City of San Fernando Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre who thanked him for procuring funds for a project that grabbed fewer headlines. “While all of Los Angeles was celebrating the money for transportation and the HOV lanes, the City of San Fernando was celebrating in its own special way $2.54 million that Congressman Berman obtained for us through that bill to do a CNG (compressed natural gas) trolley specifically for the city of San Fernando,” De La Torre said. The money will be used to purchase trolleys and pay for a fueling station. De La Torre said that city officials are looking forward to further discussions with Berman on connecting the entire Northeast San Fernando Valley with reliable public transportation. “About four years ago, I heard from a doctor at (Providence) Holy Cross that there were about 60 people in that facility that could take the metro link coming in from the Lancaster/Palmdale area, but don’t because there’s no connectivity between the Sylmar/San Fernando Metro stations and Holy Cross,” De Lat Torre said. Berman, addressing the 405 carpool lane construction project, said that the state needs to allow construction to begin before the federal money dries up. “We need to get, over the next few months, a bill through the legislature that authorizes a process called ‘design build,’ which allows one to authorize acquisitions and construction in area even as design is continuing in other areas,” said Berman. “It’s a somewhat controversial issue, the Caltrans engineers are not in love with that process, but we think the need is so critical that we need to get that authority or else we’ll lose that federal money if we don’t get construction started.” Berman urged the VICA membership to put pressure on Valley representatives in the state Senate and Assembly before the end of the legislative term. Sherman reminded the audience that he managed to secure in the federal surface transportation reauthorization bill millions of dollars for street re-pavement, which will provide road improvements that have been deferred by the city in some cases. He secured more than $12 million for road and highway improvements throughout his district. He also had a message for the state government. “In Sacramento they’re focusing on trying to create a $10 billion bond issue for transportation projects in the state,” said Sherman. “It’s important that people in Sacramento understand that to get Valley votes for that, they’re going to have to look at Valley projects.”

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