Mahatma Gandhi once said “Action expresses priorities”.  Importantly, Governor Brown has taken just such an action by directing the new California Transportation Agency to work this year with stakeholders to determine the highest priorities for transportation spending as well as identifying long term funding options to achieve those priorities, determining what level of government can best deliver these investments and providing recommendations on what performance measures should be applied to the investments that are made to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best bang for the buck.

The critically important nature of this task cannot be overstated. Our bridges need repair, our highways, roads and streets are in poor condition, and congestion is almost unmanageable.  However, coming up with the money to invest the billions of dollars needed over the next decade to do what is necessary is as staggering challenge, given scarce resources.  Therefore, the importance of setting project priorities with the highest return on investment is paramount.  And, in my mind, priority consideration should include projects that are environmentally sustainable and generate jobs over the long term.

Brian Kelly, Secretary of the state’s Transportation Agency, has been in high gear in implementing the Governor’s directive, having constituted the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup comprised of leaders from business, labor, local transportation agencies, state departments, MPOs, environmental groups and transportation related non-profits, among others.  Meetings have occurred. A lot of hardwork and creative thinking is taking place, and recommendations are expected to be finalized before year end.

I began with a quote and will end with one from author Steven Pressfield: “I’m keenly aware of the Principle of Priority, which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.”  That is what this action is all about.