Inland Empire residents, stakeholders encouraged to provide input on Connect SoCal during public comment period

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Less than a month remains for the public to provide input on a draft version of Connect SoCal, the 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy for the six counties and 191 cities that make up the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

The 25-year plan identifies $638.6 billion in transportation improvements for the region as a whole, including $87.4 billion specific to the Inland Empire. The public is encouraged to weigh in on the plan during the formal comment period, which runs through 5 p.m. on January 24.

A comment form is available online at https://www.connectsocal.org/Pages/Connect-SoCal-Comment-System.aspx.  Comments also can be sent to the attention of the Connect SoCal Team at SCAG, 900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1700, Los Angeles, CA 90017. In addition, workshops are planned throughout January to brief elected officials on the plan. A complete schedule of those workshops is available at: https://www.connectsocal.org/Pages/Upcoming-Events.aspx

SCAG planners spent four years analyzing data and working with local communities to develop Connect SoCal – a regional strategy to improve mobility, meet air-quality goals, create economic opportunities and enhance quality of life.

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Among the more than 2,000 Inland Empire projects included in the plan are the development of an east-west multimodal transportation corridor from Hemet to Corona/Lake Elsinore ($2.4 billion), the Mid-County Parkway between Interstate 215 and State Route 79 ($1.7 billion), and ExpressLanes along Interstate 10 from Redlands to the Los Angeles County line ($1.2 billion).

Other major IE projects include:

  • Express Lanes along Interstate 15 in Riverside County from Cajalco Road to State Route 79 ($544 million) and from State Route 60 to Hidden Valley Parkway to Cajalco Road ($490 million)
  • Express Lanes along State Route 60 in Riverside County from the Route 91/60/215 interchange to Gilman Springs ($508 million)
  • Express Lanes along Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County from State Route 210 to Duncan Canyon Road ($477 million) and from U.S. 395 to the High Desert Corridor ($195 million
  • Bus replacements throughout the Riverside Transit Authority service area ($328 million)
  • A new interchange at Interstate 10 and State Route 60 in Riverside County ($282 million)
  • The Redlands Passenger Rail Project ($292 million)
  • The West Valley Connector bus rapid transit project in San Bernardino County ($222 million)

A complete list of projects throughout the six-county region can be found at: https://www.connectsocal.org/Documents/Draft/dConnectSoCal_Project-List.pdf

“Making sure these kinds of projects are funded and built is critical to the future of our two counties and Southern California as a whole, connecting communities, creating new business opportunities and ensuring we can handle the growth that will continue to come our way,” said Clint Lorimore, an Eastvale City Councilmember and Second Vice President of SCAG.

Connect SoCal projects that the Inland Empire will see its population grow by more than a third over the next quarter century, from about 4.5 million now to more than 6 million by 2045 – by far the fastest rate of expansion in the six-county region. During that year, the IE also is expected to expand its role as an international trade gateway, requiring an investment in infrastructure that facilitates the movement of both people and goods.

The return on investment would be significant – reducing commuter delays, improving health outcomes and generating, for the IE alone, about 94,000 jobs – directly and indirectly – each year. Across Southern California, the 25-year plan would net a 22.8% reduction in daily miles driven per capita, more than 360,000 jobs created per year and a return of $1.54 for every $1 spent on transportation improvements.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for our regional transportation challenges. We have to explore an integrated web of creative strategies, which is what Connect SoCal sets out to do,” said Bill Jahn, a Big Bear Lake City Councilmember and President of SCAG.

Following the public comment period, a final version of Connect SoCal is expected to be presented to SCAG’s Regional Council for approval in early 2020.

For more on Connect SoCal, visit www.connectsocal.org.

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