Governor pushes infrastructure plan locally

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EL MONTE – With local and federal legislators at his side, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stood at the site of a railroad underpass construction project here on Friday and made a case for his proposal to raise $222 billion in state funds for infrastructure projects.The governor’s proposal came as “sticker shock” to many politicians when Schwarzenegger announced it during the State of the State address Thursday.With heavy machinery rumbling in the background Friday, Schwarzenegger said gridlock – especially in Southern California – is stifling the economy.“For too many people, gridlock has become a way of life,” he said. “The population in Southern California is expected to increase by 2 million in the next 10 years.”By spending billions to build better roads and railways, the state would jumpstart the economy, create jobs and make commutes faster, he said.The improvements were part of a “bigger vision,” in which Schwarzenegger calls for massive infrastructure spending, especially on schools and transportation.And the spending needs to start soon and be done all at once, he said.“We can’t do this piecemeal,” he said.He expects to pay for the increases by selling bonds and charging fees, such as a water tax and a charge for each shipping container that comes into state ports.One area conservative said the governor’s proposal caused him to “abandon all hope” that Schwarzenegger would be a fiscal conservative.“Not the way he wants to do it, $70 billion in loans, no reforms,” said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly and a West Covina School Board Member.He said Schwarzenegger should have stuck to his guns and continued to streamline the government – even after being defeated during November’s special elections.“The Austrian oak is a French willow,” Spence said. “He ran for the hills.”But Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, who attended the press conference in El Monte, said Southern California needs transportation upgrades.Dreier called Southern California the “Silk Road of the third millennium,” pointing out that 40 percent of everything imported to the country comes through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, most of it from China.The press conference was held in El Monte because the construction site is part of the Alameda Corridor East project, a plan to reduce the number of cars waiting for trains by building 150 railroad underpasses and overpasses in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.Schwarzenegger singled out ACE as the perfect example of the type of project state funds would support.Dreier said projects like the Alameda Corridor East are vital to the state’s economy.“I’m here to say this is a very important national project,” he said.Rick Richmond, the executive director of the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority, said he likes Schwarzenegger’s proposal, but wonders how much it will change as it goes through the state legislature.ACE is five years into a $950 million project to divert roads over or under train tracks at 20 intersections in Los Angeles County. The agency has about half of the $950 million it needs to complete all the intersections.Richmond noted that Schwarzenegger’s proposal calls for private business, such as rail and shipping outfits, to split costs on any improvements.“Right now, it’s just a proposal,” he said. “But it’s the first indication that the governor would support user fees for the goods-movement industry. So, we’ll see what happens.” [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext. 2703last_img read more