The update of the county’s Regional Transportation Plan is expected to be approved by the San Diego Association of Governments board at the October 9 SANDAG meeting.
The 2015 RTP update anticipates spending of more than $200 billion 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.
Federal law requires regions that receive federal funding for transportation projects to update their long-range regional transportation plans 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 the 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 timeframes for projects which had not yet begun while 2015 update will include 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 non-stop connections while also adding 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.
The addition of two managed lanes on Highway 78 between Twin Oaks Valley Road and Interstate 15 has a 2020-25 timeframe in both scenarios and a cost estimate of $232 million in 2015 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 2025 timeframe with a current dollars 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 Interstate 15 freeway lanes between State Route 78 and the Riverside County border, which is scheduled for the 2036-50 time period.
The transit portion of the RTP calls for double-tracking the Sprinter light rail line between Oceanside and Escondido to achieve 20-minute frequency by 2025, extending the Sprinter to the North County Fair mall by 2050, peak rapid bus transit between Temecula and Downtown San Diego through Escondido by 2050, rapid transit from Downtown Escondido to East Escondido by 2050, and high-speed rail between Temecula and San Diego International Airport. The changes between the 2014 draft and this month’s proposed final version include addition of rapid bus service from Carlsbad to the Escondido Transit Center.
The RTP also includes a bicycle plan network. The 2036-50 projects include the Escondido Creek Bikeway from Quince Street to Broadway, from Escondido Creek to Washington Avenue, from Ninth Avenue to Escondido Creek, and from El Norte Parkway to the end of the northern bikeway and the I-15 Bikeway from Via Rancho Parkway to Lost Oak Lane and from West Country Club Drive to Nutmeg Street.