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Quality of Life

SANDAG Board Reveals Proposed Regional Plan, $55.9 Billion In Transit Projects

The SANDAG logo is seen surrounded by the logos of other transportation planning organizations in California.
The SANDAG logo is seen surrounded by the logos of other transportation planning organizations in California.

The San Diego Association of Governments Board of Directors met Friday to discuss major investments and a funding strategy for the upcoming 2021 Regional Plan, which includes more than doubling investments in transit projects compared to the previous 2015 plan, from $25.9 billion to $55.9 billion.

The plan — the blueprint for land-use and transportation planning in the San Diego region through 2050 — is intended to enhance quality of life in the region by creating a comprehensive transportation system that is fast, fair and clean.

According to SANDAG forecasts, access within a half-mile of fast and convenient transit will triple for people in historically underserved communities under the plan.


SANDAG published all the data being used to develop the plan ahead of Friday's meeting. More than 250 terabytes of information are now available to the public, an amount more than 20 times the size of the Library of Congress.

"This data is crucial to helping us understand the challenges facing our region — including congestion, climate change and equity issues — and to developing a plan to help tackle those challenges," said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

There are significant increases in freeway operations and maintenance under the plan discussed Friday, increasing from $10 billion to $18.6 billion. New investments that did not exist in the last plan are assumed in the funding strategy — such as $4.8 billion for transit fare subsidies for low-income and youth populations, and $5 billion for mobility hubs and flexible fleets.

The total cost of the plan has been refined and is now expected to be $163 billion over 30 years — $14 billion less than the previous projection shared last August.

Staff presented funding options intended to give the San Diego region greater local control over funds. These funding mechanisms can help offset the flat growth that is expected in state and federal revenue, as well as a projected decrease in TransNet revenue based on revised forecasts.


"This is a multi-decade plan and these are funding strategies, not particular proposals," said SANDAG Vice Chair and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. "This level of funding, for these types of projects, provides a wonderful opportunity for economic development in our region."

Strategies include an expansion of priced managed lanes similar to what is currently in place on Interstate 15, a future half-cent increase to TransNet and a future half-cent sales tax increase in the Metropolitan Transit System service area. Another mechanism being considered is road user charges, a funding approach piloted by California.

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata said the agency is committed to ensure funding strategies have no disproportionate impacts on historically underserved, systemically marginalized communities.

"It is important to us that we are good stewards of public funds and public trust because this plan is going to create the fast, fair and clean transportation we need to move our region forward," he said. "Never before has SANDAG shared so much data and created a forum to openly and transparently discuss revenue and financing."

Updated every four years, the regional plan is intended to develop a transportation system that works for all county residents.

In coming months, SANDAG's Board of Directors will discuss the development of the plan with future presentations focused on technology, social equity and alignment with state, regional and local planning. A draft of the plan will be presented in the spring, with a vote by the board expected this fall.

SANDAG is the San Diego region's primary public planning, transportation and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, among other topics. SANDAG is governed by a board of directors composed of mayors, council members and supervisors from each of the region's 18 cities and the county government.