Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)

CA: Regional Transportation Plan Could Signal Boon For Los Angeles County’s Economy

Los Angeles County stands to generate nearly 100,000 jobs annually over the next 25 years through smart, aggressive planning of transportation and transit improvements.

In its 2012-2035 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, the Southern California Association of Governments identified more than 1,600 Los Angeles County-specific transportation projects, which, if fully implemented, would create 92,000 jobs a year.

SCAG, which puts together a formal RTP/SCS for its six-county region every four years, is beginning work on the 2016-2040 plan, and experts say the need and expected results should be similar.

“There is an unquestionable link between transportation infrastructure investment and economic growth,” said John Husing, president of Economics & Politics Inc. in Redlands. “Building infrastructure creates jobs. Improving mobility allows our goods movement and logistics industries to flourish. Eliminating congestion improves our quality of life. It’s an investment — not simply spending — if we get something in return."

Planning for the 2016-2040 RTP/SCS will be a major topic of discussion May 1-2 as elected leaders and policy makers throughout the region gather in Indian Wells for SCAG’s 2014 Regional Conference & General Assembly.

For Los Angeles County, among the projects included in the 2012 plan were:

  • I-710 widening, including dedicated lanes for clean technology trucks at a cost of $5.6 billion;
  • Alignment of the tunnel on the 710 North Extension at a cost of $5.6 billion;
  • I-605 Corridor “hot spot” interchanges in the Gateway Cities at a cost of $3.2 billion;
  • Extensions of the Metro Purple, and Gold lines at a cost of $9.1 billion;
  • Completion of the Crenshaw to LAX transit corridor at a cost of $1.7 billion.

The investment is needed to address aging infrastructure and expected population growth in Los Angeles County.

“Like the rest of Southern California, this community is growing, and so is the need for investment in highways and transit systems,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of SCAG.

In 2012, for the first time, SCAG integrated land use, housing and environmental strategies into its RTP to meet emissions-reduction targets by the California Air Resources Board. By encouraging community revitalization and neighborhoods that are bike and pedestrian friendly, with convenient access to transit, Los Angeles County households would save, on average, $3,200 a year in fuel, auto operating, energy and water costs.

The most obvious impact, however, would be felt on the road. Without the investments included in the 2012 RTP/SCS, average traffic delays are expected to rise to 23.5 minutes by 2035. With the investments, delays would fall to 15.5 minutes.

Of the $180 billion included for Los Angeles County, $17 billion would go to highways, $27 billion to local streets and roads, and $136 billion to transit.