State’s top infrastructure official holds roundtable with local leaders, tours Palm Springs areas in need

Antonio Villaraigosa, a former Los Angeles mayor, was appointed California infrastructure advisor in August.
Former Los Angeles mayor and current California Infrastructure Advisor Antonio Villaraigosa joined local elected leaders Wednesday on a tour of areas inside city limits that need some help.

Roadways that often flood and a rail station that needs some TLC were among the issues a key state official heard about Wednesday in Palm Springs. 

Driving the news: Former Los Angeles mayor and current California Infrastructure Advisor Antonio Villaraigosa held talks with elected leaders from throughout the Coachella Valley at City Hall and got an up close and personal tour of problem areas inside city limits that need funding.

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  • Among the places he visited, along with Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas and others, were the frequently-flooded washes on North Indian Canyon and North Gene Autry Trail. There was also a stop at the proposed passenger rail station.

  • Local officials hope state and federal funding can be secured to address flooding issues on roadways that pass through the washes — such as possibly building bridges — as well as sprucing up the train station in preparation for service between the valley and Los Angeles.

What they’re saying: “There are millions of dollars in infrastructure funds available – mostly federal plus some state – and 70% of these funds are committed to transportation projects,” a statement from the city read. “The group of local leaders who met with Infrastructure Advisor Villaraigosa are making a push for funding for regional projects.”

  • In his role, Villaraigosa works with local, state and federal leaders to identify priority projects and maximize access to federal funding across all regions of the state.
California Infrastructure Advisor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks to elected officials and local transportation leaders during the roundtable discussion at Palm Springs City Hall.

Why it matters: Villaraigosa was appointed in August, so his visit, including a roundtable he held at City Hall, is crucial to his understanding of the infrastructure needs of the valley, and in particular, Palm Springs.

  • Flooding of roads that pass through the washes closes crucial routes into and out of the city and can also delay emergency vehicles transporting people to Desert Regional Medical Center.

  • This time last year, Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, a member of the county’s Transportation Commission, identified infrastructure needs among her priorities during her one-year term that expires later this month.

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