California Infrastructure Debate: Drive our roads!

150 150 Ed Coghlan

L.A. Freeway Jam

Talk to people about the need to increase and improve California’s infrastructure, and their eyes glaze over. But ask them about the conditions of the roads, and you’ll have their attention.

I drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco on I-5 last weekend to help celebrate my mother’s birthday. The condition of I-5 is deplorable. This main artery of the state is in need–and in some spots desperate need–of attention.

But as a state, we are looking the other way. Our transportation infrastructure has been ignored for years as reported pointedly this weekend by Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee.

The recent California Economic Summit tabbed infrastructure as a main priority that it will address in its report to be released at the end of the month. The Summit’s data said that the state has deferred a staggering $765 billion in infrastructure spending, a statistic that meant more to me as I drove I-5.

The Summit, which addressed how to improve the California economy, is emphasizing its infrastructure recommendations in two parts. One is financial condition which concentrates on legislative and local initiatives to create viable options for increasing spending. The other is water infrastructure–a constant California need–where the Summit team will recommend ways to integrate the work of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the Delta Stewardship Council into a comprehensive plan.

One area of infrastructure investment that has the people’s attention, and maybe not in a good way, is the bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It has been a controversial proposal and polling indicates that people are having serious second thoughts about whether they want to spend the money on it. The criticism is growing, although in fairness the voters have approved the concept and Governor Brown, who is a powerful salesman, still thinks it is a great idea.

But for the proposed bullet train, like all infrastructure debate, the question is can we afford do any of this?

Next time you drive the I-5, let me know what you think. 


Ed Coghlan

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