Summit Synopsis

OCTA Launches Jobs Now Initiative

OCTA, in partnership with the Orange County Business Council (OCBC) and the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), launched a "Jobs Now" initiative by hosting a summit on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. With the country, the state and the county facing high and persistent unemployment rates, nearly 250 transportation officials, private industry leaders and community stakeholders from across the county, region and country gathered in Orange at the half-day event to identify strategies, solutions and models that will fuel job creation by generating continued investment in transportation infrastructure and accelerating project delivery.

Time to Create Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Committed to "Breaking Down Barriers," event participants and attendees focused on working across party, agency and industry lines to guarantee passage of vital legislation, reauthorize funding for transportation infrastructure projects, eliminate needless, redundant and counterproductive regulations, as well as develop partnerships that support innovative and accelerated project financing, design and delivery methods. This will all help create much-needed jobs, jobs, jobs.

Sobering Statistics 

The summit opened with County Supervisor and OCTA Board Chair Pat Bates setting the stage with some sobering statistics about unemployment in the nation. Orange County, at 9.3 percent unemployment is better off than the state of California at 12 percent but still is too high. In her opening remarks, Chair Bates made it clear that transportation projects are vital to not only improving and maintaining infrastructure but to putting thousands of Americans back to work. Vice Chairman Paul Glaab spoke to the importance of Orange County’s influential role as a leader and catalyst for the state’s economy by reminding attendees that "so goes Orange County, so goes California, so goes the rest of the nation."

Investment that Fuels the Economy
OCTA Directors Carolyn Cavecche and Jerry Amante stressed the real-life and bottom-line importance of making tough, timely and prudent policy, fiscal and administrative decisions that will get "our sons, our daughters, our friends and our neighbors" back to work. And to illustrate this point, OCTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Will Kempton delivered an account of how OCTA’s Measure M program is not only creating thousands of jobs and paving miles of road but is delivering mobility while building competitiveness and enhancing our quality of life. He noted that the one-half cent sales tax for transportation, along with state and federal funds, will fuel more than $250 million in infrastructure projects in Fiscal Year 2010-11 and will create or sustain over 4,600 jobs.
CEO Kempton went on to introduce Suzanne Leonard, a recently-hired construction worker who had been unemployed for two years. Ms. Leonard’s heartfelt recollection of the difficulties of being unemployed for two years resonated with all summit participants. Messages were clear: This is about people in our community, our human capital and one way to get Orange County, California and the nation back to work is to invest in transportation infrastructure projects that create or sustain jobs.

Breaking Down Barriers and Accelerating Delivery 

Congressman Gary Miller made it clear that "jobs are the biggest issue in the country." And he reported on the importance of his "Breaking Down Barriers Act of 2011," H.R. 2766, which seeks to streamline and/or eliminate needless, redundant and conflicting environmental regulations that slow productivity and stifle job creation. A member of the House Transportation Committee, Congressman Miller also spoke to the importance and urgency of extending the surface transportation bill and re-authorizing the federal gas tax, which funds transportation infrastructure projects throughout California and the country, and is set to expire at the end of September. Congressman Miller ended his address by reminding summit attendees that "we cannot wait, we cannot delay to provide jobs. If we’re going to turn this economy around, we must create jobs."

Every Day Counts Keynote

Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administrator, delivered the summit’s keynote speech, focusing on his agency’s "Every Day Counts" initiative. In his remarks, Administrator Mendez stated that the creation of jobs was the "most pressing issue facing the country" and described how his agency’s commitment to deploying innovation and technology to shorten project delivery, enhance safety and protect the environment is aimed at helping to overcome the challenge. Administrator Mendez noted that the Every Day Counts initiative is not a mandate, but rather a program of recommendations that transportation agencies across the country can leverage in concert with their own policies and programs.

Stressing the human side of the jobs challenge, Administrator Mendez noted that passing the surface transportation bill, extending the federal gas tax as well as other authorizations was not just about transportation infrastructure but about the "Suzanne Leonard’s" of our country who have struggled to find employment during this prolonged economic downturn. Administrator Mendez closed by urging summit attendees to not only shorten project delivery and maximize productivity but to minimize waste by investing and managing tax dollars wisely.

Action Plan

Legislation

  • Support passage of Surface Transportation Bill
  • Support Reauthorization of Federal Gas Tax
  • Support Passage of "Breaking Down Barriers Act of 2011
  • Plan for future funding at local, regional and state level

Regulation

  • Eliminate needless, conflicting and redundant regulations
  • Streamline onerous processes and approvals
  • Set deadlines for approvals
  • Expedite project start-up times

Funding and Financing

  • Seek to develop long-term funding strategies
  • Re-establish and enhance the federal TIFIA Program
  • Increase private investment
  • Maximize project and matching readiness
  • Leverage tolling and HOT Lane opportunities
  • Explore and evaluate infrastructure bank opportunities

Project Delivery

  • Streamline and optimize entire development process
  • Generate efficiencies by leveraging technology and deploying innovation
  • Use design-build
  • Use Construction Management at Risk
  • Leverage private sector innovation to greatest extent

Partnerships

  • Increase agency partnerships and collaboration
  • Create public-private partnership on an as-needed basis
  • Seek partnerships to design, finance, construct and operate transportation facilities

Voices from the Summit

 “Transportation projects are vital to maintaining and improving our infrastructure…and putting thousands of people back to work.”
Hon. Patricia Bates, Chair, OCTA Board of Directors / Supervisor, 5th District

 

 

 

 

 

 “So goes Orange County, so goes California and so goes the rest of the nation.”
Hon. Paul Glaab, Vice Chairman, OCTA Board of Directors / Mayor Pro Tem, city of Laguna Niguel

 

 

 

 

 

 “The unemployed are our sons, our daughters, our friends, our neighbors…we have to do more.”
Hon. Carolyn Cavecche, OCTA Board Member / Mayor, city of Orange

 

 

 

 

 “You get turned down, day-in, day-out. That’s because there are simply not enough jobs.”
Suzanne Leonard, recently-hired construction worker on West County Connectors project

 

 

 

 

 

 “It’s indisputable that the length of time it takes to do a major public transportation job is far too long…we must move away from micromanagement and risk aversion toward project responsibility through partnership.”
Hon. Jerry Amante, OCTA Board Member / Mayor, city of Tustin

 

 

 

 

 “Jobs are the biggest issues in the country… …if we can put the construction industry back to work, the unemployment rate in this country would be lower than it has been historically… we cannot wait, we cannot delay to provide jobs.”
Hon. Gary Miller, Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives, 42nd District

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “Jobs, jobs, jobs. That what it’s [the summit] all about…We can do more to put people back to work.”
Will Kempton, Chief Executive Officer, OCTA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “Investment in transportation infrastructure has a direct bearing on the viability of businesses…we must maximize safety and maximize productivity.”
Hon. Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administrator

 

 

 

 

 

 “No one has more of a stake in the success of your efforts than the business and labor community.”
Lucy Dunn, Chief Executive Officer / President, Orange County Business Council / California Transportation Commissioner

 

 

 

 

 “Infrastructure investment is still one the most effective tools that government has to create jobs and stimulate the economy…an overzealous, inconsistent regulatory environment is draining the life-blood out of our economy... we need more flexibility to invest in legacy projects.”
James Earp, Executive Director, California Alliance for Jobs / California Transportation Commissioner

 

 

 

 

 “We need more infrastructure spending, not just on our physical infrastructure, but on our human infrastructure…we cannot ignore that we need to train and educate our young people and people that are out of jobs.”
Dr. Anil Puri, Dean of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University, Fullerton

 

 

 

 

 

 “Every infrastructure project lives or dies because of politics, the same for jobs…Hopefully we can put country before party and get something done. ”
Sarah Catz, Director, Center for Urban Infrastructure, University of California, Irvine

 

 

 

 

 “The construction industry must get back to work for the economy to recover.”
Dr. Wallace Walrod, Vice President of Economic Development and Research, Orange County Business Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “We need to knock-off the bureaucracy, we need private funding, we need private banks to loan us money.”
Jim Adams, Los Angeles / Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council

 

 

 

 

 

 “We must be smart about regulatory requirements…We need to ask what’s the quickest and most effective way to complete specific projects and challenge the infrastructure development process.”
Malcolm Dougherty, State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Acting Director

 

 

 

 

 

 “We need major projects, but we need little projects too.”
Richard Hart, President, Orange County Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies

 

 

 

 

 

 

  “We must strengthen the relationships between contractors and public agencies.”
Sam Hassoun, Executive Director Engineering, Associated General Contractors of California