State of the City: Mayor’s “New Contract” Not Just About Education

What a difference a few years makes.  For the fourth time since Streetsblog has been publishing in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave a “state of the city” address to talk about where the city is and where he hopes to lead it in the coming years.  When we first covered this annual speech in 2008, the Mayor barely mentioned transportation other than a promise to ask the MTA Board to work on ways to build out the transit system.  He didn’t even call the agency Metro.

Both of these men gave big speeches yesterday. Villaraigosa's was a little more upbeat. Photo:LAist

In 2009, there was less than one paragraph devoted to transportation related issues.  Last year, it got a little better with a call to action to build the Measure R transit projects in an expediated fashion.  For those people that don’t read Streetsblog or keep up on other transportation issues, this was the first time many people had heard of the 30/10 Initiative.

This year, the focus of the speech, entitled “A New Contract” was reforming Los Angeles’ public school system, but the Mayor took a victory lap on the many improvements that have occurred to Los Angeles’ transportation system and makes clear that the city is truly planning on getting people out of their cars and in to transit, on their bikes or on the sidewalk.  I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that “we are taking a 360-degree approach” to providing alternatives to car culture as the Mayor did, but you can actually see the progress Los Angeles is making by looking at the transportation language in the “States of the City” from yesterday and the three previous years.

There’s a detailed description of America Fast Forward, the city’s large budget for resurfacing, the clean trucks and buses program, and even the value of walking and biking are all a part of the “state of the city” now and moving forward.

I’ve excerpted the transportation language from the State of the City from a copy provided by the Mayor’s press office for this year’s State of the City.  Compare it to the language from past years, and you can see that even though Los Angeles has a long way to go, the City is certainly moving in the right direction.

When I took office in 2005, I also promised to fight for a public transportation system worthy of a world-class city.

Today, we are well on our way.

We’ve synchronized over 90 percent of the city’s intersections.

We secured funding for major projects on the 405, the 5, and the 110.

We are investing billions in the first major modernization at LAX since the ’84 Olympics.

We spearheaded Measure R, the largest local transportation initiative in decades, which will build $40 billion in rail and road projects.

And together with local partners, we assembled a national coalition of over one hundred mayors, the AFL-CIO, and the Chamber of Commerce behind a bipartisan idea we’re calling America Fast Forward.

We are asking Congress for innovative and proven financing tools, so cities and states can access capital quickly.

This effort will create jobs right now using our investments in transportation projects.

It creates the conditions to bring in private sector investment.

It creates incentives for local jurisdictions to raise their own revenue.

And it leverages limited federal dollars in a smart way.

America Fast Forward will create almost one million jobs nationwide.

166,000 jobs right here in LA.

America Fast Forward is leaving LA’s Union Station and gaining steam in cities coast-to-coast and it’s time for Congress to get onboard!

In my first State of the City Address I committed to making LA the cleanest and greenest big city in America.

Doubling the size of our rail system, building bike paths, and providing alternatives to our car culture is part of that solution, and we are taking a 360-degree approach.

Later in the speech, when discussing clean air:

At the Port of Los Angeles, our award-winning Clean Truck Program has reduced emissions from diesel trucks by 80 percent.

Our transportation department became the first in the world to exclusively operate clean-fuel buses.

Over 2,000 clean buses have already logged one billion clean air miles, reducing cancer-causing particulate matter by more than 80 percent, and eliminating nearly 300,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per day.

Even further along, when discussing what the 2011-2012 budget will pay for:

It will lay down 735 miles of street maintenance and resurfacing.

And yes Angelenos, I’ve heard you loud and clear: it will fill 300,000 potholes, a 20 percent increase over last year.