Guest column: Redirect high-speed rail funds to road upgrades

By Brian Maienschein,

State Assemblymember

As Californians, we waste countless hours stuck in traffic, spending less quality time with our families and spending more on our gas bills. Throughout our state, vital infrastructure such as highways, bridges and ports continue to deteriorate.

Yet some in Sacramento remain focused on building a highly controversial high-speed rail project from Bakersfield to Fresno that the governor now estimates could cost as much as $80 billion and bring little tangible benefit to a majority of Californians. We can do better — much better.

That is why I have co-authored a “California Jobs First” proposal to fund vital transportation needs in communities throughout the state. This plan would ask voters like you to decide whether we should reallocate funds from high-speed rail to more pressing needs. If approved, the plan would result in $11 billion in one-time funds and $2.4 billion annually for infrastructure.

The plan would help us rebuild California — creating an estimated 108,000 new jobs statewide and growing the economy by up to $140 billion. It would also help save our state from becoming mired in the black hole of high-speed rail.

Under California Jobs First, unmet transportation needs of $10.8 billion in San Diego would be eligible to receive both short- and long-term funding. Projects such as the completion of the HOV lanes on I-15, and improving the I-5/SR-56 interchange would go a long way toward creating the construction jobs that will revitalize our local economy and reduce traffic congestion.

These funds could also be used to improve safety on our local highways. With these monies, Caltrans would be able to develop a new safety plan to prevent accidents on highways like SR-56. Using these funds to modernize our infrastructure now would help save families’ time and money in the long run.

I will continue to work to improve our state’s infrastructure and redirect the billions of dollars being wasted on the Bakersfield-to-Fresno high-speed rail project to provide funding for projects that benefit my community.

Maienschein, R-San Diego, represents the 77th Assembly District, which includes Poway, Rancho Bernardo and 4S Ranch.

   
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