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There is a paramount lesson to learn from California's recent energy crisis. Rather than seeing bureaucrats point blame to the culprits of a problem, voters want leaders who voluntarily assume responsibility in restoring order. Clearly, energy shortages were not caused by short-term capacity problems. Politicians failed our great state by not showing the courage to identify a very visible and imminent crisis. This lack of integrity, perpetuated across party lines, was an indication of "politics as usual."

Today, we face a more precarious crisis in our transportation system that could cripple the very fabric of our daily lives.

Due to the gross neglect of state and local roads, coupled with insufficient funding, California suffers from a lack of transportation alternatives and mobility. If we do not address infrastructure needs statewide, then our local communities will face an even more drastic economic decline. If statewide commerce cannot flow adequately when shipping goods and services, then our economy has little chance of real growth.

While politicians have retreated from making tough decisions on transportation policy, our quality of life has been dramatically affected. Traffic congestion has become unbearable for most of us in Southern California, especially in District 41. Whether traveling slowly on the 101 and 405 freeways or maneuvering through local road bottlenecks, we require a more responsive government to address both short-term and long-term plans of action.

Short-term initiatives:

  • Dedicate all gasoline sales tax revenue to transportation projects
  • Create a "fast track" process that commits local and state funds to specific plans
  • Build new Diamond lanes on congested freeways, rather than stealing from existing set of lanes
  • Evaluate and implement effective transportation strategies that have reduced freeway congestion in other cities
  • Resurface mediocre roads before they require even larger and more costly reconstruction

Long-term initiatives:

  • Work closely with local transit companies to create viable alternatives
  • Increase road construction plans that alleviate common bottlenecks
  • Create incentives for regional planning that bring in more local jobs and shorter commutes
  • Build more industrial transportation passageways for trucks and busses
  • Raise highway capital investment per capita

Between now and 2020, California will have received 12 million new residents - exceeding the current populations of Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon combined. Somehow, we need to manage by increasing capacity. Changing consumption patterns will not work across the board - many commuters are willing to tolerate the excruciating traffic. Los Angeles has a unique makeup of individuals - the city nor its people can truly compare to any other nationwide. We can recognize the fact that automobiles play an integral role in our lifestyles, and develop a transportation policy to balance this reality.

In order to prepare for the future, we must build new roads and improve existing ones. If we play "politics as usual," then we are putting all generations in jeopardy. The challenges we face on transportation may be difficult, but they are definitely achievable.

Transportation funding is one of the few areas in government appropriations that can truly trigger a sweeping response in economic and social growth. New highway and road projects will create thousands of new jobs, meanwhile additional transportation funding will stimulate better flows of goods and services. Even more, by improving road conditions, Californian motorists will save billions of dollars in vehicle operating costs, as well as improve safety factors.

California has over 21 million licensed drivers who must be able to depend on safe and efficient road conditions. Addressing our transportation needs is essential for sustaining California's economic success well into the 21st century. Politicians must ensure that government is quick to respond to this already foreseeable emergency.

The energy crisis should continually remind us that we cannot compromise our quality of life simply to avoid making the tough decisions. The time to act on transportation is now.

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You can reach Michael Wissot by contacting SymAction Communications