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Economy

San Diego region to receive $260M for transportation projects

Construction on the site of the new Otay Mesa East Port of Entry, June 28, 2021.
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Construction on the site of the new Otay Mesa East Port of Entry, June 28, 2021.

The San Diego region would receive more than $260 million in state transportation funding under a recommendation announced Tuesday.

The funding through Senate Bill will be considered by the California Transportation Commission during its June 29 meeting.

Under the recommended funding, the San Diego Association of Governments and Caltrans would receive $140 million for the federal state Route 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project. Local officials said the project would use "state-of-the-art technologies" and "will improve mobility and air quality at the border."

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Nora Vargas, chairwoman of SANDAG and the county Board of Supervisors, said in a statement the state grants "are great news for the San Diego region and represent a significant investment in improving our community infrastructure."

"This includes improving rail lines in north county and ensuring the completion of the East Otay Mesa Port of Entry, both are essential projects for our binational region," Vargas added.

The CTC staff also recommended $103 million for SANDAG and the North County Transit District to build rail infrastructure for the Build NCC Batiquitos project. The funds would be used to replace an 80-year-old wooden bridge with a concrete rail bridge, and add 0.6 miles of double track across the Batiquitos Lagoon.

Once completed, the bridge will connect the cities of Carlsbad and Encinitas. The project "will expand multi-modal capacity to the region, in line with regional transportation goals of building a faster, fairer and cleaner transportation system," said Gustavo Dallarda, Caltrans District 11 director.

Officials said rail improvements are crucial part of the Build NCC program, which involves spending almost $1 billion over a 20-year period on double track upgrades from the Orange County line to downtown San Diego.

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According to SANDAG, crews have double-tracked around two-thirds of the San Diego section of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail line, which allows trains traveling in opposite directions to pass without slowing or stopping.

Jewel Edson, chair of NCTD's board of directors, said investment in the LOSSAN Corridor "moves a critical project forward."

Edson explained that replacement of the Batiquitos Lagoon Bridge and adding 0.6 miles of double tracking "will add capacity to support future service increases and ensure the LOSSAN Corridor is resilient for years to come."

CTC staff also recommended spending an additional $18.5 million on the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, in connection with the Harbor Drive 2.0 Port Access Improvements project.

Working with the Port of San Diego, SANDAG and Caltrans are involved in the project, which includes construction of dedicated truck lanes, queue jumps, intelligent transportation system technologies and electric charging infrastructure for zero-emission trucks.

The funding covers "additional steps needed before we and our partners can break ground on Harbor Drive 2.0, a breakthrough vision to improve the main transportation corridor between the Port of San Diego's cargo terminals and surrounding communities," said Rafael Castellanos, chairman of the Port of San Diego board of commissioners.

"Our neighbors in Barrio Logan and National City win with fewer trucks in their streets, easier transit and more bike lanes and sidewalks," Castellanos said.

"Industry wins because cargo trucks can get in and out of the terminals and to the freeways faster, and the environment wins with urban greening and improvements that will reduce truck idling, leading to fewer emissions and cleaner air," he added.

Passed in 2017, SB 1 (the Road Repair and Accountability Act) provides $5 billion in transportation funding on yearly basis.

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