Declaring that the new administration in Sacramento has an opportunity to end legislative gridlock and begin unclogging traffic congestion statewide, Automobile Club of Southern California President and CEO Thomas V. McKernan on Oct. 24 urged the Legislature to make transportation planning and funding a top priority.
In his keynote address at a transportation forum held by the Golden State Gateway Coalition in Valencia, McKernan noted that much of what California voters have recently approved for transportation uses has been diverted.
"In March 2002, nearly 70 percent of voters approved Proposition 42, to dedicate the sales tax on gasoline to transportation -- over $1 billion per year," he said. "But this year, the state diverted most of this money to non-transportation purposes. Constantly delaying projects will only worsen congestion."
McKernan said that the Auto Club currently is working on a transportation action plan that will include recommendations for transportation financing, project development and approval, traffic safety and public education. The plan is based on the Club's 2002 "Quiet Crisis" report on congestion and other transportation issues. During the past year the Auto Club has held numerous meetings with transportation, business, academic and community leaders throughout Southern California to develop legislative and regional policy recommendations to improve all aspects of transportation.
"Transportation in all of its forms needs to be regarded as an essential public service with dependable funding from a variety of sources," he said. "Congestion is a problem that can't be ignored indefinitely. It affects every sector of our economy. Not only do people have to be able to get to work, to schools and to hospitals, but also trucks need to be able to deliver goods and services to consumers. These needs should be addressed on a coordinated planning basis."
McKernan said that California needs more capacity to move people and goods. "That doesn't always mean pouring concrete, though we need to do more of that," he said. "The first rule is always to use what you've already paid for more effectively and we can get more out of our existing roads."
McKernan said the Auto Club recommends assessing transportation needs and deficiencies on a regular basis, setting and measuring performance targets and doing a better job of sharing information with the public and learning what they expect and want.
About the Automobile Club of Southern California
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club says its members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs.
Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa.com