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ARTICLES AND PRESS RELEASESSan Gabriel Valley Tribune
February 23, 2006
Improving Train Traffic a Priority, Says Expert
ACE official urges action on crossings
By Rodney Tanaka Staff Writer
Monday, July 11, 2005 - RECENTLY, a dispute arose between Rep. Howard Berman, D- Van Nuys, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency over funding for a car- pool lane on the San Diego (405) Freeway through the congested Sepulveda Pass.
The governor and agency reps were lobbying the feds for $900 million in Alameda Corridor East Construction Project funding instead. The project includes overpasses and underpasses to move cars, emergency vehicles, trucks and other road traffic across the region more smoothly.
The increase in train traffic caused by more goods entering the twin Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles is causing longer and longer trains in the area as they move goods from the ports along the Alameda Corridor and onward to the east.
We agree with the governor that the movement of these goods is critical not only for our state but for the national economy.
Rep. Berman may have been working on getting a car-pool lane for the past five years, but he was late in asking for state help in the current legislative session. John Barna, deputy secretary for transportation, said the state was pushing for funding for regional projects first, especially those that facilitated the movement of goods. ACE certainly qualifies in that regard.
And while gridlock on the 405 is a definite problem for thousands of commuters daily, it pales in comparison to deadstop, north-south street traffic throughout the region as mile- long trains roll out of the ports through east Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and eastward through the Inland Empire.
ACE funding is absolutely critical to the health and welfare of 2 million residents from Pico Rivera through the San Gabriel Valley and for hundreds of thousands more in San Bernardino County.
This funding is in direct response to the Alameda Corridor itself, built with federal funds but without consideration to what happens to the trains after they move out of the ports or to the impact on communities bisected by the freight tracks they use.
We sympathize with Rep. Berman, whose district is likely to be shortchanged this funding go-round for that particular improvement now scheduled for 2018. Certainly that date ought to be moved up if at all possible. Even with restoration of $1.3 billion in state transportation funds, in the 2005-06 state budget, construction of the highoccupancy vehicle lane isn't likely to commence within the next few years due to the need for a fast-track construction process, which the Legislature turned down.
Federal funds were dependent on the state's committing to a 20 percent contribution toward the cost of the diamond lane and to getting work under way during the 4-1/2-year life of the federal transportation funding bill. ACE is already up and running.
We do agree, however that Southern California's transportation needs outweigh the federal response, despite our congressional delegation's hard work on the region's behalf.
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