SANDAG unveils $177B regional transportation vision

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego Association of Governments staff presented the $177 billion, 30-year 2021 Regional Plan for transportation to the SANDAG Board of Directors Friday, portraying a futuristic vision for transportation in San Diego County.

The SANDAG vision addresses transportation challenges such as traffic congestion, social equity and state and federal mandates. It includes provisions to increase transit use and accessibility from Oceanside to San Ysidro and calls for 300 miles of new rail line reaching nearly every corner of the county.

“This is the most important work SANDAG does as the region’s planning agency. It is core to who we are and how we provide for the region,” said Board Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus in his opening remarks. “I am hopeful that the work they have done will lead to a better transportation network in the coming years.”

State and federal laws require SANDAG to update the regional plan every four years. The previous regional plan, adopted in 2015, met state requirements for greenhouse gas emissions reductions at the time. However, the state established increased climate mandates for regional planning organizations across California in 2018.

In response to the new state mandate, in February 2019, the board approved a two-year extension to develop the 2021 Regional Plan. The extension provided SANDAG time to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks by 19% per capita by 2035, primarily through strategies that reduce the total miles driven in the region.

“This vision for the San Diego region is a direct result of robust data analysis and public input,” SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata said. “Our SANDAG planners have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into a truly comprehensive vision for a transportation system of the future. This vision considers evolving technology to create a safe, adaptable, and equitable transportation network with fast, fair, and clean choices to give every San Diegan and future generations the option to move around the region as they choose.”

The overall investment for the 2021 Regional Plan is about $177 billion over a 30-year period. A package of new policies, programs and technologies will be a necessary component of the developing the long-range plan.

After the vision presentation at Friday’s meeting, board members participated in a discussion and exchanged ideas about what the region’s transportation system should look like in the future.

“I’m excited to see an evolution of where we can go,” said San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez. “It’s an exciting moment for our region, and I know it’s challenging right now and has a large price tag, but it’s something worth committing to. It’s good for the environment and is the right approach.”

Staff developed the cost estimates in concert with national experts and in coordination with the California Department of Transportation District 11, Metropolitan Transit System, North County Transit District, local jurisdictions and the County of San Diego.

More details on the plan and the approach to developing the cost estimates will be shared with the SANDAG working groups, policy advisory committees and board of directors in late 2020.

A draft 2021 regional plan will be available for public review and comment in spring 2021 and the board will be asked to adopt a plan in late 2021.

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