Escondido, CA

SANDAG adopts new transportation plan update

The update of the county’s Regional Transportation Plan was approved 19-0 in a San Diego Association of Governments board vote Oct. 9.

The update anticipates spend­ing approximately $203.8 billion of expenditure-year dollars for highway, transit, rail, and bicycle projects.

The revenue includes projections of anticipated federal, state, local and private funds from existing and reasonably available future sources. The revenue projections account for growth assumptions and potential new funding sources consistent with historical funding trends.

“This is a balanced plan. It pro­vides a lot of transportation choices,” said San Diego City Council member Lorie Zapf.

“The result is creating a bal­anced plan that works for an entire region, not just part of it,” said SAN­DAG director of land use and trans­portation planning, Muggs Stoll.

“This plan is about connecting our communities with better mobility choices,” said RTP project manager Phil Trom.

“It’s a plan and it’s also a sus­tainable community strategy,” Trom said. “It has been prepared to meet the needs of the San Diego region through the year 2050.”

Federal law requires any region receiving federal funding for trans­portation projects to update its long- range regional transportation plan every four years. The 2011 revenue- constrained RTP had projected expen­ditures of $213.8 billion including $197 billion between 2014 and 2050.

The half-cent TransNet sales tax for transportation was originally ap­proved by the county’s voters in No­vember 1987 and in November 2004 voters approved a 40-year extension through 2048.

The federal forecast requirement is only for 20 years, but because the TransNet tax will be collected through 2048, SANDAG approved an RTP through 2050 in October 2011.

The 2011 adoption of the plan through 2050 meant that few changes for specific projects were needed for the update, so the 2015 plan focuses on implementation.

The 2011 plan did not include time frames for projects which had not yet begun while the 2015 update provid­ed phasing information.

SANDAG staff developed two sce­narios for the draft revenue-constrained RTP update, and in September 2014 the SANDAG board adopted a hybrid of the two scenarios as the preferred option to be analyzed in the environmental review process.

The differences in the two scenarios primarily involved express light rail ser­vice versus expanded bus rapid service and the phasing of freeway managed lanes.

One scenario called for “express” Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District light rail lines to provide commuters with nonstop connec­tions It also added new light rail service in more densely populated areas.

The other scenario included more light rail lines but replaced the express light rail service with more widespread rapid bus service. The first scenario added two managed lanes along the Interstate 5 and I-805 corridors in an earlier phase with two additional managed lanes being add­ed later.

The second scenario added all four managed lanes at once while delaying additional managed lanes for State Route 78. The blended scenario features the rap­id bus service but also adds the freeway managed lanes in phases.

“We need all our modes to work for all our residents,” said San Marcos City Council member Chris Orlando.

“A balanced approach is best for all of San Diego County, specifically for North County,” said North County Tran­sit District Board chairman and Carlsbad City Councilman Mark Packard. “Our goal is to do the most good for the most people.”

The SANDAG board sought to bal­ance transit options with road capacity im­provements. “You know it’s a good plan when everybody doesn’t get everything they want,” said County Supervisor Bill Horn, who is one of two County of San Diego representatives on the SANDAG board. “I think it’s a good plan.”

Ron Roberts is the other county super­visor on the SANDAG board. “This plan is solid,” Roberts said.

Roberts is also the county’s represen­tative on the Metropolitan Transit System board but noted that roads are needed for truck traffic. “We can’t do that with bi­cycles and we can’t do that with light rail,” he said.

“We need transportation and good roads. We need things out there in the backcountry,” said San Pasqual tribal chair Allen Lawson, who is the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association representative at SANDAG board meet­ings.

“Transportation is something that we need,” Lawson said. “It’s a very good plan.”

The addition of two managed lanes on Highway 78 between I-5 and I-15 has a 2020-35 timef rame in both sce­narios and a cost estimate of $1.7 billion in expenditure-year dollars. The high- occupancy vehicle connectors from northbound I-15 to westbound Highway 78 and from eastbound Highway 78 to southbound I-15 also have a 2020-35 time frame with an estimated cost of $139 million.

The RTP includes privately funded toll roads as well as highway, transit, and rail projects which would require publicly funded revenue. The RTP includes adding four toll lanes to the eight I-15 freeway lanes between State Route 78 and the Riv­erside County border, which is scheduled for the 2036-50 time period and has an es­timated cost of $2.554 billion.

The transit portion of the RTP calls for $1.3 billion to double-track the Sprint­er light rail line between Oceanside and Escondido and achieve 20-minute fre­quency by 2035, $437 million to extend the Sprinter to the North County Fair mall by 2050, $198 million for peak rapid bus transit between Temecula and Downtown San Diego through Escondido by 2050, $104 million for rapid bus service from Carlsbad to the Escondido Transit Center by 2050, and $80 million for bus rapid transit from downtown Escondido to east Escondido by 2050.

The RTP also includes a bicycle plan network. The 2036-50 projects include $32.5 million for the pathway from Dou­ble Peak Drive in Encinitas to San Marcos Boulevard, $5.4 million for the Escondido Creek Bikeway from Quince Street to Broadway, $2.7 million for the Escondido Creek Bikeway from Escondido Creek to Washington Avenue, $2.7 million for the Escondido Creek Bikeway from Ninth Avenue to Escondido Creek, $16.2 mil­lion for the Escondido Creek Bikeway from El Norte Parkway to the end of the northern bikeway, $10.8 million for the I-15 Bikeway from Via Rancho Park­way to Lost Oak Lane, and $1.4 million for the I-15 Bikeway from West Coun­try Club Drive to Nutmeg Street.

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