Teamwork: Local Officials and Regional Support Get Feds to Support Transportation Project

A coordinated campaign on the part of local officials, state and federal lawmakers, and business leaders has led to an infusion of funding to address the congested 91 freeway linking Orange and Riverside Counties. After a year of pressure, the neglected Inland transportation route will get some attention so that the 91 can be widened through Corona. The region’s officials have felt the recession has made it particularly difficult for the Inland area of the state to get its concerns addressed because Los Angeles and the Bay Area draw more attention.

Now that the persuading period is over, officials are applauding the fact that the federal government will subsidize the cost with a $445 million federal loan, as announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Receiving the funds certainly took perseverance, as loans through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act are considered highly competitive. After the county’s application was initially rejected, officials retooled their application and ramped up advocacy efforts.

Anne Mayer, executive director of the transportation commission, commented “We made the case for this project every chance we got. We made the case from a financial standpoint. We made the case from a goods movement standpoint. [...] If we have our own local resources that we’re willing to put up for a transportation project, then that is great incentive for the federal government to put money up. It leverages those funds.”

The widening of the freeway is expected to create 4,600 jobs in Riverside County and around 16,000 across the state. In 2010, around 264,000 vehicles a day crossed the county line near Corona.

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