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San Bernardino falls short in key transportation funds

San Bernardino falls short in key transportation funds

A California Transportation Commission list released Friday on how to spend $4.5 billion worth of new highway dollars throughout the state, excluded two key freight highways in the San Bernardino County.

   The San Bernardino Associated Governments, the county transportation-planning agency, had applied for more than $531 million in state funds. These included efforts to widen the Interstate 215 and Interstate 15 highways. The two routes are heavily traveled by cargo trucks moving containers from Southern California ports to distributions centers located throughout San Bernardino County, located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Highways in the region have begun experiencing severe congestion, due in part to the increased number of trucks on the road. The CTC approved $153 million worth of projects for the area.

   An area of I-15 north of the county did receive funds for improvements, as did I-10, a heavily traveled cargo corridor in the north of the county.

   SBAG Executive Director Tony Grasso told the San Bernardino County Sun that his agency would try to convince transportation commissioners that the denied I-215 and I-15 projects are vital to easing congestion on the state's highway system.

   Local officials throughout California have already asked for more money than is available. Transportation Commission staffers evaluated 149 funding requests that total more than $11.3 billion in road works.

   The $4.5 billion of highway dollars is part of $19.9 billion in bond revenues that state voters authorized in November with the passage of Proposition 1B. The proposition was part of a massive package of bond measures that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supported as a means to revamp California's infrastructure and educational facilities.