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IE officials look to govt for help

December 10, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Unemployment in the Inland Empire is among the highest in the nation, and officials are looking to the federal government for help. And they say there are expectations for improvement under a Barack Obama administration.There are a number of roadway improvement projects underway in the Inland Empire, but with an unemployment rate over 10 percent more jobs need to be created.

Anne Mayer, Director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission, talked about the importance of President-elect Obama's economic stimulus plan.

"There is a lot of uncertainty. We are not really sure what is going to happen, but we are have our list ready so we are able to respond to whatever criteria the federal government comes up with," said Mayer.

Mayer said the completion of needed projects in Riverside and San Bernardino counties would provide jobs for years.

"What is so important about it is not only could we get people to work today, and try to bring in some projects to get them out on the streets earlier. But it would also bring in an infusion of cash that would free up some of our other funds to allow us to have a sustainable program over the next several years," said Mayer.

Riverside County has formulated a ten year plan from 2009 to 2019 to complete much needed freeway projects.

The stimulus money could move this plan forward.

"Of key importance are some interchanges that are out in the Coachella Valley along Interstate 10. There are projects out there that will be ready to go in the short term," said Mayer.

There will be competition for the stimulus money. Agencies in the Inland Empire say that they can present a good case while SoCal gets a fair share.

One of the unanswered questions about the stimulus, is how the money would be dispensed. Would it come directly to the county agencies? Or would it come through the state?

A representative of Caltrans said, "If it comes through the state in the morning, they'll get it to the counties in the afternoon."

No matter how it gets here, it's going to be welcomed.


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