Transportation & Infrastructure
Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is an economic challenge and an economic necessity. According to the most recent data, the estimated annual cost of congestion delay to travellers in the San Francisco-Oakland region is $3.3 billion. For those travellers trying to use the region’s roads and public transit during peak travel time, this works out to an annual average cost of $1,266 per person. The Bay Area is this nation’s innovation hub, and delaying its workforce in traffic and on overcrowded public transit costs the nation through lost productivity and increased pollution.
Congresswoman Speier has supported public transit, seismic retrofits of bridges, schools and hospitals, and travel capacity improvements throughout her years in the State Legislature and in Congress. For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided $5 million to Caltrans to install ramp metering at entrances to Highway 280. Ramp metering is a way to improve the efficiency of highways so that they can carry more cars, but without adding lanes. MUNI received $108 million under ARRA to upgrade light rail vehicles, provide preventive maintenance, rehabilitate buses, and for a number of other system improvements to meet the ongoing needs of San Francisco’s population. San Francisco International Airport received more than $30 million for runway upgrades and improvements. Caltrain electrification—which will create a level of service similar in frequency and comfort to a city subway—has received $1.5 billion from federal, state and local sources. San Francisco International Airport will be spending over $4 billion through 2023 in federal and airport funds to create better terminals, a new air traffic control tower and other improvements.
The rationale for better transportation and infrastructure is not limited to ease of use or to economic productivity. We need to control greenhouse gas emissions or risk paying a price in terms so dear as to be incalculable.
According to a Bay Area Air Quality Board 2007 study of sources of greenhouse gases in the San Francisco Bay Area, carbon dioxide is 91% of all greenhouse gas emissions produced in a year. Transportation (passenger and commercial) represents the largest source of those emissions – 41%. Clearly, improved transportation is an essential component to successfully addressing the challenges of climate change in the years ahead.
As indicated above, Caltrain will benefit from its relationship with High Speed Rail.
Congresswoman Speier supported the awarding of $2.25 billion in federal high speed rail funding for construction of the first stage of the state-wide high speed rail system. The service is needed to avoid a massive strain on our state’s major airports and roadways over the next several decades, and to relieve commute-hour traffic as population growth continues apace with economic growth. The blending of the two systems of high speed rail and Caltrain along the corridor is the right way to bring modern rail service to San Francisco and the Peninsula.