Last month, I voted to approve the San Diego Regional Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) plan and schedule of regional transportation projects for the next forty years. This plan, referred to as the Regional Transportation Plan, is based on the needs of our region as projected in SANDAG’s 2050 Growth Forecast.
The plan was developed by creating a wish list of regional transportation projects, prioritizing them in order of importance, and then applying that list to SANDAG’s revenue projections for the next forty years. SANDAG staff then took the list and developed four draft plans for the region. Each plan differed significantly from the other.
My colleagues and I on the Board of Directors were asked to approve a plan that emphasized rail/freight improvements, highway improvements, mass transit improvements, or a fusion of the three. After several spirited discussions, it became clear that none of the four plans was adequate, and that a new draft plan would be necessary. I have always believed that a balance of transit and highway improvements is necessary to accommodate our needs as a region, both now and in the future. I was pleased that SANDAG staff returned with a plan that provided the right mix of projects. The new and approved hybrid plan includes the following:
- Double-tracking the Coaster and Sprinter Lines
- Expanding the I-5 to 10 regular lanes and 4 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes
- Expanded bus service in Escondido, connecting I-5 to SR-78 through Carlsbad, and from Oceanside to Point Loma along I-5
- Expanding SR-76 east of I-15 to four lanes
- Expanding SR-78 by adding two HOV lanes
- Four new toll lanes added to I-15 from Escondido to Riverside County
- Four new toll lanes added to I-5 from Oceanside to Orange County
- Expanding SR-56 to six regular lanes
- Streetcar/Shuttle services in San Marcos
How much different will we look by 2050? If we change as much as we have since 1971, the answer is: a lot. Forty years ago Interstate 805 wasn’t even built and the San Diego Trolley was still ten years away from carrying its first passenger.
We were driving muscle cars that went for $3,300 and cost about three dollars to fill the gas tank. A new house sold for under $6,000, and a first class stamp was eight cents. We bought polyester leisure suits out of our average yearly salary of $10,000 and gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. Getting around was a lot easier since the population was about 1/3 of what it is today.
It is important to me and my fellow North County representatives on the SANDAG Board that North County receive its fair share of the transportation dollars provided to our region. By working as a team, we were able to secure about 30% of the anticipated funding for the region, which will provide North County with a bounty of valuable projects. Although we cannot be certain, it is estimated that our region will have nearly $45 billion to allocate toward regional transportation projects between now and 2050. These funds will come from various state and federal sources, and will put your tax dollars to work for the benefit of our region.
I’m honored to be among those leaders who are planning ahead for the challenges our region will face forty years from now. I look forward to revisiting our plan when SANDAG updates it in 2014.
January 26, 2011
I am inviting experts from many fields to the County Administration Center for a conference that will examine our most precious natural resource: water. We are calling the session: “Water and Growth, Planning for the Future.”
Whatever your thoughts are on growth in San Diego County, without an adequate supply and distribution of water, we are doomed.
There is no such thing as new water. The water that floated Noah’s ark is the same that we have today. All water is either recycled by rain, going in lakes, evaporating back into clouds, or saved in places such as springs or polar glaciers. More than 70% of the Earth is covered by water.
So, with all that water, why do we have a water crisis? One of the reasons is that most of the water is in the ocean and as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner went:
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
The construction of the Poseidon Desalination Plant in Carlsbad is a step in the right direction. I support building more of these along the coast to take advantage of this ready supply of water. Until that happens, we are left to find solutions to manage the distribution of imported water and capitalize on local water supplies.
The State’s water conveyance system is broken. Unfortunately, the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010, which I supported, was withdrawn from the November ballot. Our County stood to gain millions of dollars in dedicated funding for local reservoir projects, local supply reliability and watershed projects.
Currently, we find ourselves in the death-grip of a political drought and a way of thinking that has just about dried up common sense. It can only be described as societal suicide when the California High Speed Rail Authority gives the green light to spend $4.3 billion for the first 65 miles of the line between Corcoran, north of Fresno to the “burgeoning” community of Borden near Bakersfield. While our water supply is on a slow drip and needing new water infrastructure to bring water from the north into the Central Valley and parts south, the State is intent on building a high-speed 800-mile rail line with almost no money to fund it and few passengers projected to ride it.