The demand for transportation funding is high and support from the State and Federal government is a critical part of the funding equation. It can be an arduous process that is filled with complex requirements. Planning and delivering these projects can take large investments of agency time and local resources while waiting for the allocations.
Staff takes its role in securing those funds very seriously and works diligently to comply with the multitude of requirements needed to receive these coveted awards. Typically, these funds should not be subject to any one particular political agenda, but rather be evaluated based on merits associated with corresponding criteria.
In December of 2023, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) met in Riverside, CA to allocate funds that had been awarded to projects that had successfully gone through that evaluation process. One of those projects was the Interstate 15 Express Lane & Freight Improvement Project. This major freeway project that will help relieve congestion while concurrently addressing the heavy goods movement demand in our region had been identified for State funds back in 2020. Unfortunately, when it came time to allocate those funds last month, the project was pulled for a political discussion and ultimately was inappropriately denied its allocation.
The CTC decision sparked a reaction by State elected leaders who represent districts in the Inland Empire. As a result of their expressed dissatisfaction, coupled with SBCTA’s efforts to illustrate the uncharacteristic behavior of the Commission, the project is being reconsidered by the CTC later this month. The support for the region was swift and direct and showcases the growing strength of the Inland Empire at the State level.