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SANDAG Approves A 40-Year Transportation Plan

— The money is big and the stakes are high. The question is: How should San Diego spend $110 billion over the next 40 years to make it easier to get from here to there? This morning the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) held a long meeting devoted to that question. In the end, it approved a new Regional Transportation Plan that included a controversial blueprint to expand I-5.

Funding for the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) comes from state and federal dollars, along with money raised by San Diego County’s TransNet tax.

The updated RTP has plenty of good news for people who like alternative transportation. About $2.6 billion will be spent to make it easier and safer to bike and walk. One analysis of the plan spotted $24 billion in new mass transit investments.

The plan includes four new light-rail lines, including one that connects University City to Mira Mesa. Another line would take trolley riders from Pacific Beach to El Cajon. Elyse Lowe, executive director of Move San Diego, said the RTP would also provide more frequent transit trips in the central metro area.

“If we can get buses going where people don’t have to wait 20 minutes, and they know the frequency at which it’ll come, that’s really important,” she said.

Even so, a lot of people spoke out against the transportation plan, and three members of the SANDAG board voted against it. Most of the dissent centered on the plan to expand I-5 to 14 lanes in north coastal areas. That expansion will require the condemnation of many homes.

And not all transit boosters were happy with the plan. Marco Gonzalez, an environmental attorney, said the RTP makes a big mistake by planning to build transit projects while also expanding freeways to reduce traffic congestion.

“If you don’t have congestion, people won’t take transit,” said Gonzalez. “If you build highways at the same time you’re building transit, you’re going to incentivize the kind of sprawl development that we’ve historically seen.”

The Regional Transportation Plan is one step in a long process. Opponents of the I-5 expansion say they hope there’s still time for SANDAG to reverse today’s decision. Meanwhile, transit proponents will continue to push for a plan they call “Transit First,” which would delay freeway expansion until transit alternatives have a chance to win people over.

Comments

Avatar for user 'brixsy'

brixsy | December 18, 2010 at 8:46 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Getting those trolleys in, especially the Mid-Coast Corridor should be our top priority. The I-5 expansion is deficient, to say the least.

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Avatar for user 'Tom Fudge'

Tom Fudge, KPBS Staff | December 18, 2010 at 3:41 p.m. ― 4 years ago

It think the point made by Marco Gonzalez is the best one I heard the whole morning I sat through that SANDAG meeting. If you don't have road congestion people won't take transit. This is something San Diego doesn't seem to understand. The truism we heard in "Field of Dreams" is way too true of adding freeway lanes. If you build it, they will come. In fact, if you increase the width of I-5 to 14 lanes we'll simply fill them until THEY become congested. So what's the point? The only way you'll increase transit ridership in this town -- the only way you'll get people to bike and walk -- is by making motoring and parking expensive and unpleasant. Do that and some people will STILL drive because they can't imagine doing anything else. But a lot of people will take the step. It's what will have to happen if we hope to make any dent in the greenhouse effect.

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Avatar for user 'WaltBrewer'

WaltBrewer | December 20, 2010 at 1:51 p.m. ― 4 years ago


The American positive “Way”, fairness, constitutional respects for individual rights, are inconsistent with government imposing restrictions, inconvenience, waste of time, and freedom of choice upon activities, including means for travel.

Some leaders and media members and a few activists create the illusion of a canonical belief that mass transit is the end product Holy Grail to which all should aspire in order to satisfy ideologically based expenditure of taxpayer resources.

Thus statements such as that by Mr. Fudge which would impede achievable efficient travel flow in order to coerce travelers from overwhelmingly personably preferred autos, into less desirable and less effective collective modes of transportation.

Perhaps Mr. Fudge, and lawyer Gonzalez should set down and distribute in specific quantitative terms exactly what it is about mass transit to make it the not to be questioned pinnacle of desirability to be reached at considerable effort and sacrifice compared to means the vast majority has chosen for several decades

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Avatar for user 'Tom Fudge'

Tom Fudge, KPBS Staff | December 21, 2010 at 3:36 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

I am not opposed to giving people a choice. In fact, I will confess that I drove my car to that SANDAG meeting. In my mind, there are only two good reasons to "force" people to take public transportation. Reason #1: We don't want our cities to be carpets of concrete, not just for aesthetic reasons but because of the environmental harm caused by excessive run-off. Reason #2: Requiring greater use of public transportation, walking and cycling is the only way we will reduce global warming, which is a potentially disastrous environmental problem. I can hear some people thinking... What if we perfect hydrogen combustion or some other technology that will allow us to still drive 'til we drop and not use fossil fuels? If that happens, it changes the equation to be sure. Call me when that happens. In the meantime, I truly believe we have no choice but to discourage car transportation.

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