Maritime Administrator Jaenichen and Vice Mayor Lowenthal Hosted Town Hall on Beyond Traffic Framework

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U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen and Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal hosted the third of 11 nationwide regional forums on the Beyond Traffic draft framework at Long Beach Convention Center. The Beyond Traffic report examines the trends and choices facing America’s transportation infrastructure over the next three decades, including a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system facing more frequent extreme weather events. The report predicts increased gridlock nationwide unless changes are made in the near-term.

The town hall style meeting allowed citizens, elected officials, metropolitan planners, transportation industry partners, business owners, and community leaders to learn more about the framework and ask questions about the trends identified in it. Administrator Jaenichen and Vice Mayor Lowenthal also solicited input from the participants on their region-specific experiences and asked to hear ideas for solutions to those challenges.

“Beyond Traffic identifies that the logistics and goods movement industries of Southern California, which contains some of our nation’s largest ports, will be uniquely impacted by growth over the next 30 years,” said U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen. “As we finalize the framework, we wanted to hear directly from residents who rely on and are working to improve the region’s transportation system, especially those who are involved in the region’s bustling freight sectors. Conversations like the one we had today are vital as we continue to tackle the challenges and opportunities related to the impending increase in population and the higher demand for goods that compliments this growth.”

By 2050, the population of Southern California is expected to increase by over 61 percent. But, with more than 25 percent of its bridges rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and 34 percent of its roads in poor condition, California has critical infrastructure investment decisions to make in order to accommodate this increase in population.

“Combining forward thinking with a commitment to environmental stewardship, the City of Long Beach is eager to change how we move goods and people throughout the nation,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “Transportation is not just for cars, as tradition holds here in Southern California, but it’s also for mass transit, for cyclists, and for pedestrians; for the grandmas and grandpas who walk our kids to school. Transportation literally is the road to our future.”

Following remarks by the Vice Mayor and Administrator and a presentation from U.S. Department of Transportation’s Beyond Traffic team, State Senator Ricardo Lara, State Assemblymembers Mike Gipson and Patrick O’Donnell, Long Beach Transit President & CEO Ken McDonald, Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen, Orange County Business Council President & CEO Lucy Dunn, and the City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus Director of Transit Services Edward F. King participated in a town hall-style panel focusing on the impact of Beyond Traffic trends in the region. The last half of the program engaged attendees in a facilitated conversation, giving them the opportunity to share feedback that will inform the final Beyond Traffic report when it is published in 2016.‎

“There is no better place than Long Beach to be having this conversation,” Congressman Alan Lowenthal said. “Here in our city, we see the challenges and opportunities facing us as we seek to keep pace with rapid population growth and economic development. Long Beach is a gateway to the ever-expanding Southern California region, and we need to focus on investing in our critical freight infrastructure across greater LA, California, and the United States.”

To learn more about Beyond Traffic or to read the full framework, click here.

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