The Point: Harnik calls for proactive partnership and strategy from state

After hearing about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement on December 5 to fund a traffic congestion relief project on southbound Interstate 15 near the California-Nevada border, RCTC Chair Jan Harnik sent a letter last week to ask the Governor to apply the same urgency to reduce debilitating traffic delays in Riverside County.

Chair Harnik, who also serves as the Mayor Pro Tem of Palm Desert, applauded the Governor’s collaborative approach to relieve traffic chokepoints and driver frustration near the state line and emphasized the urgent need for state action for hard working Riverside County residents.

“Riverside County, like the California-Nevada border, also has longstanding traffic issues that we have worked to address. While we appreciate the state’s assistance to date, we frankly need much more. We need a proactive partnership and strategy from the state to bring traffic relief to this region. The well-being and prosperity of our disadvantaged communities depend on it, as do the state and national economies,” she wrote.

State transportation officials are implementing policies that would eliminate highway expansion projects in favor of funding other transportation modes, such as passenger rail and other transit options.

“While multimodal transportation systems are vital to future mobility, roads and highway expansion cannot be discounted as a tool that helps keep our people and goods moving,” Chair Harnik wrote, while asking Gov. Newsom to call her to discuss the challenges that Riverside County is facing.

These policy changes make it increasingly difficult for Riverside County to receive funding to provide immediate traffic relief to working families. Riverside and similar counties rely heavily on highways as their main form of transportation to address large suburban populations, who frequently commute to distant job centers.

RCTC invites residents who agree with the need for more funding for congestion relief in Riverside County to voice their support at and to read Chair Harnik’s full letter. The webpage also includes an option to be notified if Gov. Newsom places a call to Chair Harnik to discuss solutions.