The San Diego Association of Governments, the region’s top transportation planning agency, unveiled an unprecedented multi-billion dollar proposal to add hundreds of miles of high-speed transit lines throughout San Diego County, including inland North County. According to Hasan Ikhrata, SANDAG’s executive director, many of the envisioned transit lines would run parallel to congested highways, providing traffic relief along key commuter corridors, including I-5, I-15, SR-52, SR-78 and others.
Ikhrata also called for freeing up funds from outdated highway improvements and expansions to contain greenhouse gases in line with state mandates and making San Diego a world-class economy. The plan also calls for double tracking the Sprinter commuter rail while also extending it from San Marcos to Carlsbad. Most notably, nearly every North County community would get a so-called mobility hub, in many cases connecting commuter rail, buses, and other transportation options at one location.
The plan is now under review for funding. Because repair and maintenance projects are now being utilized to keep our highway system efficient, in addition to freeing up funds from unnecessary and ill-conceived highway expansion projects, sales tax revenues on a county wide basis would add the required revenue. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569 spoke out in favor of having the work subject to a project labor agreement bringing lots of jobs and boosting our local economy.
During my recent campaign for State Assembly, I vowed to fight for a transit system to link Temecula to San Diego and fight the scourge of traffic congestion along the I-15. Smart growth includes elements for affordable housing and transportation accessible from the housing to work-place destinations. I am pleased to see that SANDAG is moving San Diego toward real transit solutions. With the housing element growing, widening roads or installing express lanes defeats the broader goal to reduce emissions and doesn’t bring our transportation system to the 21st Century. Policy must progress with our times and our needs. This one is a bold start. Let’s make sure our local city councils are on board with this plan.
Alan Geraci is a Public Interest Attorney.