A group of engineers and politicians from around the country are taking their message directly to President Donald Trump, urging him to halt construction of a major highway project in Southern California.
The coalition, led by former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, calls for a shutdown of the 5,800-mile, $2.8 billion Orange County Transbay Transit System, which runs the San Gabriel Valley from San Diego to Long Beach and includes a major freeways corridor between the two cities.
Foxx announced the coalition in a Thursday morning statement, calling the project a national disgrace.
“A nation of immigrants has long struggled to make a better world, and the United States is the only country on Earth that has failed to build a national infrastructure that will ensure prosperity and prosperity for all Americans,” Foxx said.
“The Orange County Transit System is a massive, sprawling project that will not only take years to complete, but will have catastrophic impacts on local economies, the environment, and human health,” Fox, who served as Transportation Secretary under President George W. Bush, said in the statement.
“It is a betrayal of our core values as a nation and a disgrace that should never happen again.”
Foxx said the federal government has failed in its duty to create a national transportation system, and he is urging the Trump administration to halt the project.
“It is time for the federal administration to take a long, hard look at how it can better serve our nation by rebuilding our infrastructure,” Fox said.
“That includes rebuilding our public transportation system that has been the bedrock of America’s success for more than a century, and its essential connection to our highways and bridges that have protected millions of lives and provided millions of jobs.”
The coalition said the construction of the new Transbay LRT would not only destroy local economies but also put hundreds of thousands of people out of work.
The Transbay Regional Transportation District said it expects construction to begin in the next few weeks on the first phase of the project, which would build a tunnel to transport the rail system between San Diego and Los Angeles, a move that would have a devastating impact on the region.
The LRT will be built at a cost of more than $2 billion, according to a statement from the project’s developer, Los Angeles-based Caltrain.
It would link Los Angeles and San Diego, connecting them to the rest of the state.
Construction on the second phase, which is expected to be completed in 2021, would provide more than 600,000 jobs in the region, according Caltrain, and will include new stations and highways to connect the new rail system with the existing Interstate 895 corridor.
Fox said the LRT project is also an insult to the U.S. Constitution, which the president swore to uphold during his campaign, and is a major threat to public safety and security.
“This project will not serve the public interest, or the national interest, nor will it serve the needs of the American people,” Fox wrote.
“When a federal agency like Caltrain is able to pull off a $2-billion tunnel project to create the world’s largest rail tunnel that is also a major public safety hazard, I call on President Trump to halt this project and cancel this costly waste of money.”
The Trump administration has said it plans to complete the project within the first four years.