The Point: Federal investment can help leverage local and state funding to deliver more transportation infrastructure improvements in Riverside County

Following significant debate and negotiation in Congress over the last several months, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in November to provide $550 billion in new infrastructure spending. After working closely with the California Congressional delegation to include language in the legislation that allows us to compete for funds, RCTC is prepared to apply for grants to make much-needed investments in our region’s transportation system.

The IIJA includes substantial funding for roads, bridges, electric vehicle infrastructure, rail-highway grade crossing improvements, climate resiliency, and carbon reduction.

“This new infrastructure bill may give Riverside County and our region the tools we need to improve and expand our transportation investments for the 21st century,” said RCTC Chair Jan Harnik, who also is the Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem. “RCTC eagerly awaits the opportunity to compete for these funds. We are ready!” she said.

In addition, the IIJA includes the five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation legislation, which provides funding for roads, bridges, transportation safety, and freight programs.  The IIJA makes the single largest investment in repairing and reconstructing bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system with a $40 billion bridge program.  The bill also includes historic funding for public transit and passenger rail by providing nearly $70 billion for public transit, a 40% increase over current spending levels, and $66 billion for passenger rail, the largest investment in 50 years.

This is good news for RCTC and California. Based on data recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, California expects to receive billions of dollars in transportation infrastructure funding over the next five years:

  • Approximately $29.5 billion for highways and bridges – a roughly 44% average annual increase over current funding levels;
  • Approximately $179 million for highway safety traffic programs to reduce deaths and injuries from vehicle-related crashes – a 29% increase over current funding levels; and
  • Approximately $384 million to support the expansion of the electric vehicle charging network.

California will also be competitive for aviation, water, and energy infrastructure funding made available through the IIJA.

The IIJA will help RCTC leverage Measure A funds, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in Riverside County, to deliver transportation projects that connect our communities, support our economy, and offer mobility options that reduce traffic congestion, support clean air, and enhance the quality of living in the region.

The IIJA will also create opportunities for RCTC to advance regionally transformative projects such as the daily passenger rail service between Coachella Valley and Los Angeles to provide residents and tourists an alternative to traveling on Interstate 10, as well as next-generation transportation improvements identified in RCTC’s 2020 Commission-adopted Traffic Relief Plan.