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California bill would boost transport jobs

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The California Legislature recently passed a bill that could generate more than 6,000 transportation jobs in Orange County. The measure will now go to Governor Schwarzenegger for approval, the Orange County Register reports.

Sponsored by Assemblyman
Jose Solorio, who worked on the measure on behalf of the Orange County
Transportation Authority, AB 11 X8 would allow the California Transportation
Commission to sign $410 million in deals for local projects that could seek
state reimbursement in the future.

A number of OCTA’s
shovel-ready infrastructure improvements have been halted because of the
state’s inability to sell bonds, according to a statement from Solorio. Though
the agency does have the required amounts to begin construction, it can’t move
forward until the state also can pay its share. But the new legislation would
allow OCTA and other agencies across the state to move ahead with projects and
be eligible for reimbursement once the bonds are sold.

"OCTA stands ready to
nearly triple the state’s investment in infrastructure," says Jerry
Amante, the organization’s chairman of the board. "We are thrilled to
partner with the state to keep projects moving and jumpstart the economy."

Among the local
improvements that could serve to benefit from the bill: track expansion and
grade crossing improvements for the Metrolink totaling about $183 million. That
alone could add 2,754 workers in the county. Other developments include the
Fullerton Transportation Center parking structure – a $42-million project
that’s projected to generate 522 jobs – and the Sand Canyon Avenue grade
separation, which totals about $55 million and could create 828 new positions.

The developments stem from
Prop. 116, which allotted about $2 billion in bond funding for transportation
infrastructure projects across the state. The city of Irvine last year also
reallocated $121.3 million of its unused funds to O.C. commuter rail projects,
further supporting infrastructure developments in the region.

"This legislation is
one creative idea among many that is going to get California back on its
feet," says Solorio. "It all comes down to having confidence in the
future and being proactive to create jobs."

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