LOS ANGELES, CA – Nearly 500 government, business and civic leaders from across Southern California today joined together for the 7th Annual Southern California Transportation Summit hosted by Mobility 21, the region's leading coalition dedicated to finding transportationsolutions across five Southern California counties. This year’s event focused on strategies to help transit agencies and other groups address regional transportation priorities during the current economic and fiscal climate.
U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert and California State Assembly Member Mike Feuer addressed elected officials and business, transportation and community leaders representing the region's more than 17 million residents. The Summit was attended by many other notable Southern California leaders including: U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson; California State Senator and Transportation and Housing Committee Chair, Alan Lowenthal; California State Assemblymember and incoming Transportation Committee Chair, Mike Eng; Los Angles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, and more than a dozen other regional transportation and government officials.
"L.A.'s transportation crisis poses a growing threat to our quality of life. In light of this crisis it is important to pass Measure R," said Assemblymember Feuer. "I am delighted to be a part of this event today. Mobility 21's summit creates a venue for transportation leaders to come together, collaborate and speak with one voice in the best interest of all Southland transit. Together we can pass Measure R and transform L.A.'s future."
Among challenges discussed by the group was the next five-year federal transportation authorization plan, a primary source of funding for capital projects and public transit in Southern California that is currently being drafted in Congress. Particularly since California is suffering from a state economic crisis, Mobility 21 will this year work to provide the needed advocacy for Southern California to get its fair share of ever-scarcer transportation funding.
"The credit crunch is hurting public transportation at exactly the time when we are needed most," said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa. "Public transportation can actually help cash-strapped consumers save money -- about $10,000 a year in our region -- and construction of new transit and highway projects would create thousands of new construction jobs to help temper the economic downturn. Now, more than ever, we need to work together as a coalition to attract funding for transportation to our region to fund new projects and expand service."
In Ventura County, the current state budget crisis is expected to cut funds for a major widening project underway on Route 118 in Simi Valley, halting construction and leaving the 118 without a new westbound lane.
"Ventura County needs increased investment in transportation to address soaring transit ridership, as well as congestion," said Kathy Long, Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) Vice Chair and Ventura County Supervisor. "In Ventura County, where we have no local transportation funding source, we need reliable State and Federal transportation funds to maintain our