The Point: Legislators request funds for local projects to provide immediate mobility solutions

Seventeen California senators and assemblymembers who comprise the Inland Empire Caucus called on Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon earlier this year to fund projects in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. This funding would provide much-needed relief to the region’s transportation network.

The request was made as the Legislature and Governor begin discussions to formulate the 2022-23 state budget.

Under the leadership of Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, Chair of the Inland Empire Caucus, the legislators sent a letter on January 6 to request $2.2 billion in budget funding to deliver key transportation infrastructure projects in the two-county region, which has experienced dramatic population and goods movement growth during recent years. The convergence of this growth creates daily competition for limited space on our roadways between semi-trucks transporting goods and our residents commuting to work, making now an ideal time to seek funding for immediate solutions.

BefordCajalco 0012

“The current budget year surplus and the $31 billion surplus projected for the 2022-23 budget year, combined with robust cap and trade revenues and considerable new federal transportation dollars, present an opportunity that the residents and businesses of the Inland Empire cannot afford to miss,” the IE Caucus letter said. The surplus was most recently projected by Governor Newsom to be $45.7 billion.

Both the Riverside County Transportation Commission and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority have compiled a group of transportation solutions to connect diverse communities, offer more mobility options, promote economic prosperity, reduce traffic congestion, streamline goods movement, and secure a climate resilient future across the Inland Empire. Residents in both counties approved half-cent sales tax measures (Measure A in Riverside County and Measure I in San Bernardino County) to combine with state and federal funds for transportation improvements.

IMG 7718

The Riverside County projects include:

Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Rail Corridor Service Project – Caltrans and RCTC propose daily passenger rail service between Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley. The project would be transformational for the region, creating economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities, improving access to job centers and attractions, providing alternatives to traveling on I-10, and reducing emissions to improve air quality. The $50 million request would help fund preliminary engineering along the 76-mile eastern section of track as well as project-level environmental clearance for up to six stations, a new third main track, and associated grade crossings and signal improvements on the eastern end of the corridor.

Interstate 10 Bypass Project – The County of Riverside Transportation Department proposes constructing an Interstate 10 bypass route in Banning and Cabazon. There is a stretch between the City of Banning and the unincorporated community of Cabazon and the Morongo Reservation, in which I-10 is the only road available to motorists. Should this stretch of I-10 ever close, the critical link between western Riverside and San Bernardino counties and the inland desert communities would be severed. The proposed I-10 Bypass Project would mitigate this nightmarish scenario with construction of a new road south of I-10, linking Banning to Cabazon. The $95 million request would fund final design, right of way acquisition, and construction of a two-lane roadway with bridges and grading for a future four-lane facility.

Third Street Grade Separation Project – The City of Riverside proposes reducing public safety risks by redirecting vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle traffic above or below the busy railroad tracks at Third Street. Riverside is trisected by two freight rail lines, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. These rail lines carry more than 75% of the freight handled by the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach through Riverside. Every day, approximately 128 trains pass through the city. At-grade crossings pose safety risks, create traffic delays, increase emissions from idling vehicles, and delay emergency response. The $30 million request would allow construction of the project to separate Third Street from the railroad tracks.

15 Express Lanes Project Southern Extension – RCTC proposes extending the 15 Express Lanes by an additional 14.5 miles, from Cajalco Road in Corona, through the Temescal Valley, to Route 74/Central Avenue in Lake Elsinore. Once built, the project would improve traffic operations and travel times, expand travel choice through carpooling and mass transit, increase travel time reliability, and manage long-term traffic congestion spurred by increased goods movement and population growth. The $500 million request would fund final design, right of way acquisition, and construction of the new lanes.

Fullerton Junction to Riverside Triple Track Completion – Metrolink proposes triple tracking the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line from Fullerton through Riverside, as part of a suite of upgrades to Metrolink’s system in time for the 2028 Olympics. Not only is this project critical to improved passenger rail service in Riverside County, it also will enhance the movement of freight and goods from the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach to reduce road congestion and associated emissions. The $200 million request would fund project development, include environmental approvals, final design, and construction of segments from the Prado Dam to Riverside.

Click here to read the full IE Caucus letter, which also includes details about requested funding for San Bernardino County projects.

To register your support for securing more funding for Inland Empire projects, please visit our support page.