By Susan A. Davis
As Southern Californians, we spend an inordinate amount of time in our cars and on the road. Bad, congested roads can mean delays and auto repairs. And repairs mean money — a lot of it.
San Diego has been known for having some of the worst roads in America, but we have made some improvements. In 2015, we ranked eighth in the country for poor road conditions. It wasn’t until 2018 that San Diego dropped out of the top 20 in cities with bad roads.
This progress is certainly good news. The $760 billion infrastructure proposal recently unveiled by House Democrats, called Moving Forward, provides a chance for regions like ours to build on those improvements and ensures a transportation system that is green, affordable, reliable, efficient, and provides access to jobs.
As it addresses our nation’s most urgent infrastructure needs, this bold proposal will create 10 million good-paying jobs, take important steps to address climate change, improve safety, and spur economic activity.
Equally important, this framework will give communities a greater say in how these funds are used to rebuild their neighborhoods.
Currently, states play a large role in determining how federal transportation funds are used. Under the new plan, cities will get a seat at the table, allowing them to direct the dollars where there is the greatest need in their communities.
Let’s take a look at this ambitious proposal and what it can mean for San Diego.
Modern highway and safety investments will see a 21% increase that prioritizes fixing roads and bridges through long-term and sustainable funding.
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, San Diego has 200 bridges that need replacement, rehabilitation, or other structural work.
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is working to improve transportation access to San Diego International Airport and potentially pave the way for a Metropolitan Transit System trolley route to the airport.
The last major expansion to our trolley was the Green Line connecting San Diego and El Cajon, which I was proud to help secure funding for in Congress. The Mid-Coast extension, currently underway, is scheduled to open next year.
The 72% increase in funding for transit will aid transit agencies as they add new routes and provide more reliable service to their public transportation systems.
Southern California has become synonymous with traffic and expanding public transportation that encourages viable public transit options will get people out of their cars.
Less cars clogging our roads will reduce carbon emissions, result in cleaner air, and allow San Diegans to spend more time with their families and less time stuck in traffic.
San Diego is a leader in renewable energy and working to reduce carbon emissions. Unique to this infrastructure plan compared to others is the emphasis on combating climate change.
The Move Forward plan includes a strong focus on energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, electric vehicles, and supports the expanded development of alternative fuels.
Investments in the development of Smart Communities, the state energy program, and the Clean Cities Coalition Network could help San Diego meet its goals under its aggressive climate action plan.
Support for the Move Forward plan is broad and growing. The National League of Cities, the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Roundtable are just a few of the organizations praising the proposal. If you can get the chamber and Labor on board, you must be doing something right.
Rebuilding America should be a bipartisan endeavor. Democrats, Republicans, and President Trump must come together on behalf of Americans who are clamoring for an infrastructure that will lead us into the future.
The cost of inaction is too great for our communities. An investment in our infrastructure is an investment in American workers and manufacturing, including steel through strong Buy America protections.
The Move Forward framework sets those priorities, creates jobs, and will be a key component in the goal to address climate change. So, let’s get moving and get this done.
— Congresswoman Davis represents central San Diego, including the communities of Old Town, Kensington, Mission Hills, University Heights, Hillcrest Bankers Hill, North Park, South Park, Talmadge, Normal Heights, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.