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California Deluge Marks Urgency of Infrastructure Spending

Widespread damage caused by much-needed rain throughout Southern California this past week raised alarm about the status of the Golden State’s aging and decaying infrastructure, the misallocation of funds, and the need to appropriate more money to update the region’s transportation network.

“I’m not surprised by any of this that is happening right now because we have been delaying maintenance everywhere,” Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Southern California Association of Governments, told the Press-Enterprise. State Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) reportedly said, “It’s symbolic that we’re not paying attention to infrastructure. It’s s a symptom of a greater problem. It all comes down to neglect.”

Sinkholes appeared in Southern California just days after the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failed and nearly sent billions of gallons of water pouring into Northern California towns downstream, potentially affecting 200,000 residents.

ABC 7 captured several massive sinkholes from the air. Two cars fell into a sinkhole in Studio City on Friday.

According to NBC Los Angeles, both cars were removed Saturday morning, and no serious injuries were reported.

 

ABC7 captured another sinkhole in the City of Covino created by a tree that had fallen over in the torrential rains.

Monterey Park reportedly addressed over 1,000 tree-related service requests in a span of 24 hours.

Ikhrata reportedly noted that the collapse of California’s heavily-traveled 15 Freeway at the Cajon Pass presented a massive hit to the economy in the southern part of the state.

Ikhrata told the Press-Enterprise that it would require $486 billion in backlogs for maintenance “just to bring the system up to par.”

There have reportedly been disagreements as to how to finance this backlog. According to the Press-Enterprise, Ikhrata supports a proposal introduced by state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) to raise the per-gallon tax on gas by 12 cents, the diesel excise tax by 20 cents, and the state sales tax by 4 percent.

Others are reportedly more interested in President Donald Trump’s vow to launch a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure building program across the country; a proposal that has been met locally with cautious optimism.

According to a graph presented in a 2016 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state and local spending on infrastructure is at a 30-year low.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the situation in Oroville a “textbook example” of the consequences of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and noted the need for Congress to “pursue a major infrastructure package.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz

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