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Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been tapped by the governor to become the new state infrastructure czar overseeing $119.6 million in federal funds recently awarded for eight key projects.
“With this influx of federal dollars, we have an incredible opportunity to rebuild California while creating quality jobs, modernizing crucial infrastructure and accelerating our clean transportation progress, benefiting communities up and down the state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Aug. 11 when announcing the appointment.
Not a state employee, Villaraigosa will serve as the key state liaison for local elected officials on infrastructure needs in a position supported through a state partnership with a nonprofit called California Forward, which has been working with Newsom since 2019 on a Regions Rise Together economic development project.
“Antonio has the extensive experience and relationships to deliver on this promise and bring together the many partners who will be key to our success. I look forward to his collaboration with the administration as we build up communities across California,” Newsom added.
Villaraigosa, who completed two terms as Los Angeles mayor in 2013, will work with local, regional and state leaders, and travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal officials regarding transportation and infrastructure.
The same day he was named state infrastructure adviser, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced 166 projects that would receive $2.2 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants.
California’s $119.6 million share will fund eight projects, including $20 million to the Port of Los Angeles to build a four-lane, rail-roadway grade separation to eliminate trucking delays to a container terminal support facility on Terminal Island. Grants were made to improve rural and urban transportation, with several projects meant to enhance public transportation.
For instance, some $5 million will fund a regional planning project across the Sacramento Region to designate mobility zones to increase public access to transit options and low- or zero-emission transportation.
A rural project in Marysville will receive $15 million to modernize a new facility to support a zero-emission bus fleet for Yuba-Sutter Transit.
RAISE grants also were awarded to the California High-Speed Rail Authority ($25 million) to extend its electrified intercity service between downtown Merced and Bakersfield. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority now will have $23 million to create safer active transportation on a 1-mile congested area on Howard Street, while the city of Inglewood can spend $15 million in federal dollars to finish three transit stations over 1.6 miles.
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The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, located in the far northwestern part of the state near the Oregon border, was granted $1.61 million to improve pedestrian crossings and bike paths around Highway 101, connect areas cut off by the highway and improve safety in an area that has experienced 20 crashes from 2016 to 2021.
In Fontana, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, the city will get $15 million to modernize four critical corridors (on Victoria Street, Cherry Avenue, South Highland Avenue and San Sevaine Road), including widening roads, installing new lighting, upgrading signs, separating bike lanes and raising medians.
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