Inland Empire Transit Briefing: Ontario Airport, High Speed Rail and More...

Ontario Airport

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

As the kids go back to school, many politicians are just beginning their vacations as several governing bodies and boards traditionally go dark in August. However, there's quite a bit of important stories happening in the transportation realm.

Local Control of Ontario Airport

The major transportation story that's happening right now is the ownership transfer agreement of the Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles to Ontario. Both parties of this intense negotiation agreed to a settlement price tag of $190 million according to the Press Enterprise

There's still quite a bit of work and details to be done regarding this transfer as the actual date the deed gets turned over to Ontario is planned to be October of 2016. I predict there will be more smaller-item negotiations and decision making ahead but the overall ownership change would mean tremendous opportunities for the Inland Empire. If the City of Ontario does fulfil its promise to improve the airport infrastructure and usage policies so that airlines can better invest in additional flights and grow competition, expect economic growth, more services, potentially lower prices, more jobs in and around the airport, and fewer Inland motorists having to trek all the way to LAX and jam the 91, 60 and I-10 freeways into West LA.

I'll keep a close watch on this story. Getting airline services closer to home can certainly get Southern California moving.

San Bernardino International Airpot - SBD

Let's not forget that the Inland Empire does have another international airport which is certainly long overdue for private investments from the airlines: San Bernardino International.

The San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) comprises the County of San Bernardino and the Cities of San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda and Highland. It has recently launched the "Let San Bernardino Takeoff" Facebook page in an effort to draw new service.

Safety along Southbound I-15

In Lake Elsinore, motorists have noticed that construction crews broke ground to improve the safety of the southbound I-15 at Railroad Canyon Road by constructing an auxiliary lane from the exit. During the afternoon rush hour, floods of cars use the exit and traffic can spill over onto the freeway.

What is very interesting about this exit is prior to the start of construction, motorists were already making use of the former wide shoulder and used it as a virtual exit lane which partially offset the safety hazard of stopped cars along a 70 MPH freeway lane. Now this virtual lane will soon be a real, legal auxiliary lane.

The City of Lake Elsinore is spearheading this project and has more infrastructure upgrades planned for this interchange area.

The concern I have is why hasn't ground been broken yet on the Temecula Parkway Ultimate Interchange project which the existing infrastructure has a far-worse hazard than at Railroad Canyon Road? Why is it not funded and cleared? Like Railroad Canyon, long lines of cars spill over onto the southbound side of the main freeway lanes in this area except the queue does back up into the far right general purpose lane during the afternoon rush hour, many weekends, and whenever special events occur at the Pechanga Resort. Due to this safety hazard, this has been the site of numerous fender-benders given the lack of warnings, some of them involving injuries.

Lake Elsinore was able to fund and quickly start building an I-15 exit lane for safety's sake. Why can't the same be done for this segment of the Temecula Parkway Ultimate Interchange?

Moving Forward with High Speed Rail

The Transit Coalition is building a new campaign project for high speed rail. The technology has been proven worldwide to be an efficient means to move people quickly beyond a reasonable doubt. We aim to ensure that valid concerns about the future of the statewide project are addressed without throwing out the technology with the legit issues. Lots of divisive spin is being put out there and our goal is to show that high speed intercity transit infrastructure can work for California. We need to find some common ground on this project, spend the voter-approved seed money wisely, get the routes shovel-ready, and allow the private sector to invest, fund, and build the rest of the system. Back east, Amtrak's Acela Express has shown the technology can turn a profit which would incentivize private investments.

We appreciate you following us. Talk to you next week.