OCTA CEO: Getting America back to work

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Will Kempton

In these tough economic times, it has never been more important to turn our attention to infrastructure projects to help get our country back to work and keep us moving forward to a better tomorrow.

But, how exactly can we create those jobs and how can we do it quickly? More than 250 people gathered today in Orange, Calif. for a first-of-its kind summit to discuss factors that create jobs and offer solutions to expediting transportation projects for America’s future.

The "Jobs Now Summit," hosted by the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Orange County Business Council, brought together transportation officials, business leaders, economists, labor representatives and workers throughout the nation, including Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and U.S. Congressman Gary Miller (R-Brea).

This country is experiencing one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression. Currently, unemployment in the U.S. is at 9.1 percent and those seeking work outnumber available jobs by more than four to one.

The "Jobs Now Summit" provided an opportunity for open dialogue to highlight the importance of infrastructure investment as a way to create desperately needed jobs in an industry still reeling from the recession.

Through the forum, solutions emerged that could lower the unemployment rate in Orange County and across the nation, while helping the millions of men and women who are eager to get back to work.

The ideas provided were extensive, including:

•    Implementing proposals from the Breaking Down Barriers Act of 2011 to speed up project delivery.

•    Using innovative methods of project delivery.

•    Utilizing creative financing methods and tools.

•    Enacting a jobs program/bill at the federal level that includes a substantial investment in transportation projects.

Thanks to our voters in Orange County, we are helping combat the unemployment numbers by investing millions of dollars in transportation improvements.

In Orange County, the Measure M2 half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements is advancing more than $200 million in projects into construction in the next 12 months, which is estimated to create 4,600 jobs. These projects include:

•    Orange Freeway (SR-57) widening project.
•    Grade separation projects in north Orange County.
•    Signal synchronization.
•    Metrolink track improvements.

Elected officials at the local, state and federal levels have the tools and power to help businesses invest, create jobs and bring our economy out of this recession.

And we will continue to work with our leaders in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., as well as our communities and local business leaders, to find ways to improve our highways, roads and railways while putting thousands of people to work.

To find out more how you can be involved, visit www.octa.net/jobsnow.

To see a video highlighting the day, go to www.youtube.com/goocta

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Is transit ready for the Big One?" here.

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