REGION – North County cities are getting their most dire infrastructure improvement wishes granted thanks to the 2017 passage of SB1. The Road and Repair Accountability Act is a landmark transportation investment to rebuild California by fixing neighborhood streets, freeways and bridges. “The passage of SB1 means that $52 billion is being invested over the next 10 years to complete projects in our communities,” John Hakel, Executive Director of Southern California Partnership for Jobs said. “While this is a victory for our state, we are working to increase awareness about the continuous need for long term infrastructure funding.”
According to Hakel, the bill amounts to approximately $5 billion a year to support infrastructure improvements, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what is actually needed. “To get everything in tip-top shape, we would need $300 billion,” he said. Southern California Partnership for Jobs works with cities and local regional agencies to raise public awareness and educate elected officials about the most severe infrastructure needs to improve conditions within our communities.
Southern California Partnership for Jobs is a nonprofit which represents 2,750 contractors who employ more than 90,000 union workers in Southern California. “In 2014 there was a frustration by both the general contractor community and unions about the lack of transportation tax funds available to fix the degradation of our infrastructure,” Hakel said. “The unions and contractors came together to fund and begin supporting a way to strategically educate the public and public officials why there needs to be more infrastructure funding.”
Prior to SB1, there was no designated state money to address these issues. “We couldn’t motivate the legislature to come up with a game plan to address these very critical problems,” Hakel said. “The cities and counties didn’t have the money; the state didn’t have the money. But with SB1 funds, we have begun to clean up and make our roads and communities safer.”
The benefits of SB1’s passage is twofold. While transportation infrastructure projects make safer communities, it also means more local jobs. “SB1 is a job creator,” Hakel said. “The White House Council of Economic Advisors found that every $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure supports 13,000 jobs a year. SB1 is putting people to work rebuilding California.
In Encinitas, the Santa Fe Drive Corridor Bike and Pedestrian Improvement Project is a prime example of SB1 funs at work. “The city knew exactly what project needed funding, and said ‘We have got to fix this,” Hakel said.
The city of Vista submitted a request for projects that needed construction overlay work. Work is currently underway.
Solana Beach has an annual pavement management program that identifies about a dozen streets in need of repair,” Hakel said. “SB1 funds are now helping to fix pot holes and other immediate needs in the city.”
Escondido residents have a possible safety issue near Juniper Elementary School. “With SB1 funds we will be able to address bike and pedestrian improvements to create safe routes to school,” Hakel said. “We can keep children out of harm’s way and make routes easier and cleaner for motorists.
Proposition 69, which will be on the June ballot, is crucial to ensure SB1 funds continue to support local infrastructure. “A “yes” vote on this proposition means that the state can’t take away money and use it for other things,” Hakel said. “It assures the voter that those projects approved will be funded and will be completed.”
Southern California Partnership for Jobs stays true to its mission of raising awareness with continuous updates to its website and social media accounts. “We even have a QR code which people can scan to learn where all work is being done here in their community,” Hakel said. “We really want people to stay up to date, see what projects we are working on, what’s in the pipeline and what has been completed.”
As more projects are underway, communities are already enjoying the benefits of SB1 funds and Southern California Partnership for Jobs’ outreach. “So far, we’ve had a great response from the public and public officials with a lot of positive feedback,” Hakel said. “Everyone appreciates knowing how their tax dollars are being spent.”