While serving as Mayor, I often find the opportunity to serve our community on issues of regional and national significance. Menifee is part of a much larger region which includes all of Riverside County and we are faced with large scale challenges that cross city boundaries.
Transportation stands out as a prime example of a critical regional need that can make our community stronger by providing infrastructure to serve residents and attract new employers and jobs.
In Riverside County, transportation policy and funding decisions are made by the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC). In a county with a population of more than two million people covering more than 7,000 square miles, it requires a great deal of collaboration with numerous stakeholders.
RCTC provides an opportunity for success by ensuring that every city has a seat on the commission along with the County Supervisors to ensure that we are building a transportation system to take us well into the 21st Century. I have the honor of representing Menifee on RCTC, a unique agency of only 45 employees who are delivering billions of dollars in projects.
If you’ve traveled anywhere along our freeways recently, you’ve noticed the unprecedented level of construction almost everywhere. We have already seen the I-215 widened to the South of us and the same improvements are being built all the way to Nuevo Road. Similar work is taking place on the I-215 north of Riverside, on Highway 91 and millions of dollars are being made available to local jurisdictions to build regional projects such as the upcoming work on the I-215/Newport Road Interchange.
In the area of providing transportation choices, Metrolink trains will soon be traveling along the train tracks that run by the I-215 and will include a station on our northern border with Perris. By the end of I-215, those of you who commute to jobs in Riverside, Corona, Orange County or Los Angeles will be able to hop on the train at our local station and leave the driving to someone else.
In Riverside County, we are able to do all of this with the help of Measure A, our voter-approved, half-cent, county sales tax which can’t be raided by Sacramento or Washington. It’s local revenue that pays for local projects and creates local jobs.
Moreover, by working closely with my colleagues on the commission, we can shape and improve public policy. For example, transportation projects take too long to build because of duplicative environmental reporting requirements. By working with my colleague from San Jacinto on RCTC, we co-authored a resolution with the mayors of Los Angeles and Sacramento to make changes in federal law to streamline the environmental process. Congress must still act, but our experience with RCTC provided us the opportunity to make a positive change on a national level.
Certainly we need to do more. I will be tireless in advocating for more transportation funding and projects that make sense for our community and the entire county.