The Bay Area has changed drastically over the past two decades. The cost of living and traffic congestion have skyrocketed, impacting residents’ quality of life. Consequently, it’s more important than ever to invest in our aging infrastructure. In the United States, the majority of power lines have already passed their life expectancies. Over the next 10 years, the government must spend an estimated $80 billion on levees alone. The average age of U.S. dams is 56 years, a fact that sadly helps explain tragedies such as the Oroville Dam spillway in 2017. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives California’s infrastructure a dismal C- rating and predicts that California’s population will grow by 25 percent over the next 20 years. This rapid population growth, along with worsening threats posed by climate change, demonstrate the dire need for additional and improved infrastructure.
San Mateo County recently unveiled its green infrastructure workplan that would update storm drainage systems using a more environmentally conscious model. Congresswoman Speier applauds such progressive efforts, but the daunting job of solving our country’s infrastructure problems should not be left to state and local officials alone. Congresswoman Speier has consistently supported essential investments in transportation infrastructure through the Highway Trust Fund and continues to advocate for long-term infrastructure funding.
Congresswoman Speier also believes that any future upgrades to our infrastructure must address the impending threat of the climate crisis. Sea level rise has ravaged the coast, jeopardizing homes and businesses. The looming threat of wildfires underscores the need for updated and secure power structures. Speier supports investing in “climate smart” infrastructure, which is better equipped to withstand extreme weather and sea level rise and will save taxpayers significant costs in the long run. A proactive response to evident vulnerabilities in our infrastructure is necessary. These essential upgrades will improve public safety, create jobs, and grow the economy through increased efficiency and decreased waste.
Caltrain is the backbone of the Silicon Valley transportation system. In the past two decades, Caltrain ridership has more than doubled and now serves nearly 65,000 passengers per day. The Caltrain Modernization Program (CalMod) includes electrification and other vital upgrades that will improve overall speed, safety, and performance.
In 2018, Speier announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded an additional $18.7 million to Caltrain for construction of its positive train control (PTC) system. This brings the total federal contribution to PTC to nearly $90 million out of the $263 million project budget. This system was first mandated by Congress after the 2008 Metrolink accident and was expected to be operable on railroads throughout the country by 2015.
Positive Train Control will make rail passenger service safer and allow more efficient operations, helping to speed commuters to their destinations, rather than being stuck for endless hours in our highway gridlock. Caltrain remains an innovator in our nation both in terms of its long-range vision, which includes electrification of the line by 2022 and a system blended with high speed rail at some point in the future, and in terms of responsiveness to rider requests for greater capacity, convenience, and safety. Congresswoman Speier will continue to advocate for opportunities for the federal government to support Caltrain’s riders and America’s economy.
Further information about the PTC project may be obtained by visiting Caltrain’s website at http://www.caltrain.com/projectsplans/CaltrainModernization/PTC-Project.html
Housing prices have pushed an ever-increasing number of workers farther and farther away from their places of employment. In the past decade, commute times have increased 17 percent, tacking on an extra 43 minutes weekly per commuter. Highway 101, between San Francisco and San Jose, remains one of the busiest corridors in the Bay Area.
Congresswoman Speier is supportive of Caltrans’ announced plan to add 32 miles of express toll lanes to Highway 101, between San Bruno and Sunnyvale. Buses, carpools of three or more, and motorcycles will be able to use the lanes for free and all other drivers must pay a fee. This measure will have a positive impact on the environment by incentivizing carpooling and bring much-needed relief to drivers.