Infrastructure a Top Priority for Cities – SB 1 Funds Helping Los Angeles

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Percent of speeches related to these topics

Amid the absence of long-term infrastructure funding assurances from the White House, local elected officials continue to sound the alarm on the challenges stemming from inefficient transportation networks. Infrastructure continues to top the list of agenda priorities for U.S. mayors, according to the 2018 State of the Cities Report compiled by the National League of Cities (NLC).

Now in its fifth year, NLC’s annual report analyzes key issues in the ‘State of the City’ speeches mayors deliver each year to outline their top priorities. This year’s report examined 160 mayoral speeches from cities across population sizes and geographic regions.

Over the five years, infrastructure has consistently appeared as one of the major priorities on the list of Top 10 issues — and in 2018, infrastructure became the second highest priority for mayors, eclipsed only by economic development, which emerged as the most prevalent policy issue. The report states that 56% of the State of the City speeches devoted significant time to infrastructure issues such as roadways, traffic signs, sewers, public transit, pedestrian infrastructure, and funding.

There is a clear need for infrastructure development in cities across the nation. In 2017, U.S. infrastructure scored a D+ rating, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. A D grade indicates that overall infrastructure is below standard and a large part of the system exhibits deterioration, causing a “serious concern with a strong risk of failure.”

“Large and small, urban and rural, cities across the country are confronted with a growing range of complex issues,” noted Clarence Anthony, CEO of NLC.

In February, President Trump proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan that would rely heavily on backing from private investors. Transportation leaders on Capitol Hill have yet to endorse Trump’s infrastructure guidance. Mayors and governors alike have urged the federal government to provide additional funding for transportation maintenance and improvements. But left without viable solutions from the White House, city mayors are looking elsewhere to address their infrastructure priorities.

For “ongoing concerns about failing infrastructure … America’s cities are taking the lead to find creative solutions to local government’s most pressing problems,” said Anthony.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is one example. Mayor Garcetti’s 2018-19 budget substantially increases spending to fix L.A.’s streets and sidewalks in areas that have demonstrated the greatest need for repairs and safety improvements. It includes $91 million for Vision Zero, traffic and pedestrian safety projects, $41 million for new sidewalks, $73 million for street reconstruction, and $148 million for street maintenance. These numbers represent a spending increase of almost $83 million over last year.

In lieu of federal assistance, Los Angeles is relying on funds generated by recent voter-approved State and County measures. “The next fiscal year will be the first full year of funding from Measure M — a ballot initiative that L.A. voters passed in 2016 to invest billions in transportation. It will also be the first full year of funding from SB 1 — a landmark state infrastructure bill passed last year. Mayor Garcetti’s budget takes full advantage of this new revenue, and puts it directly into the improvements that Angelenos have been promised,” said the Mayor’s office in a statement.

Southern California Partnership for Jobs supports infrastructure investment. We advocated for the passage of SB 1, a new transportation funding source that is becoming ever more critical for California. We oppose any efforts to repeal SB 1 that would rob our communities of vital road safety and transportation improvement funds.

Source: Various

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