In December of last year, a few members of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) Board were contacted by Assemblymember Chris Holden (who represents the northern San Gabriel Valley) to receive initial reactions to his concept of a new construction authority that would expand the Gold Line to Ontario International Airport. As discussions continued, Mr. Holden delayed introduction of his legislation to further engage our Board.
Through these subsequent conversations, I along with a few select members of our Board, shared our opinion that the creation of a new construction authority is unnecessary to successfully plan and construct the desired passenger rail connection to ONT. From our perspective, this new entity would make the desired transit project more costly and serve to increase the time for project delivery.
We affirmed that SBCTA is the authority for transportation in San Bernardino County and that we were willing to partner with other existing agencies -- including LA Metro and Metrolink -- to create a regional transportation solution. We shared with Mr. Holden our Board’s commitment to see that plans for future rail and transit access to Ontario International Airport are consistent with the needs of San Bernardino County taxpayers, who would bear the financial responsibility for the project, and provide connectivity to our neighbors in Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles County.
Despite our requests to work within the framework of SBCTA, I was disappointed to learn that Mr. Holden introduced legislation that would allow the state to dictate that San Bernardino County taxpayers fund an expanded bureaucracy to build a multi-billion transportation project that has not been approved by the SBCTA Board or by the voters of San Bernardino County through Measure I.
As one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties, we have significant transportation challenges that need to be addressed and limited funding to address them. This requires a sense of priority. Instead of creating a new government entity focused on constructing a project that primarily benefits Los Angeles County at the expense of San Bernardino County, we encourage the Assemblymember to collaborate with SBCTA to address the issue of airport connectivity in a more meaningful and realistic way.
(Darcie McNaboe is president of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority.)