SANDAG considers options for regional transportation future

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In the next few months, we’ll be hearing more about the regional transportation plan from SANDAG. The San Diego Association of Government is responsible for updating a regional plan every four years.

This year, with a new SANDAG chief, there’s been a lot more discussion and debate about the direction of the agency’s 2021 regional plan.

Executive director Hasan Ikrata has said he wants to put more money into projects for mass transit.

Catherine Blakespear, the mayor of Encinitas and the Vice Chair of the SANDAG board said SANDAG has to decide how to make the best use of TransNet revenue, the money from the half penny county sales tax that goes to pay for transportation projects.

In the past, most of the TransNet money has been spent on highways and roads. Blakespear noted that the plan’s revision must reflect more stringent state requirements to reduce vehicle emissions. She said public transit, such as trolleys, light rail and “people movers” should be considered as a way to take more cars off the road to reduce congestion.

“State requirements for our plan require that we show that people will drive less, and expanding roadways doesn’t do that.” Blakespear said.

In the TransNet proposal put to the voters in 2004, 14 highway and road improvement projects were approved, but remain unfunded to date.

With construction costs rising and more emphasis on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, Blaskspear said it’s doubtful that all of those projects will get off the ground.

“The goals are congestion relief so anybody who you can take off the road and have them take the train because the train is more frequent, and it goes where they want to go, that person is reducing congestion,” Blakespear said.

Some SANDAG board members have been openly critical of the new focus, and are asking whether the needs of drivers in the North and East Counties have been shortchanged.

Blakespear said it’s too early to jump to any conclusions about which projects will be prioritized.

“I believe the ultimate plan will have improvements for those roads, but it will be paired with more of a focus on transit than we’ve seen before,” she said.

SANDAG’s updated plan is still being developed and will be presented to the agency’s board this fall.

Categories: Local San Diego News