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The mood at California Transportation Commission (CTC) meetings is in stark contrast to what it was two years ago, when the commissioners were looking for ways to divvy up shrinking transportation funds and had to turn down many requests for funding. With the passage of the S.B. 1 gas tax, there is plenty of money presumed to be available in the next decade–presuming that the Prop 6 gas tax repeal fails in November, of course.
At its meeting this week, the CTC approved $1.8 billion in allocation requests for highway projects, including $3.5 million for Active Transportation Program projects, and $156 million for transit projects.
Among the transit projects was a $6.5 million allocation to Metrolink to begin work on the Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion (SCORE) Program, a $10 billion plan to improve rail service in the region. Among its planned improvements are safety enhancements like grade separations that will allow for more quiet zones where train horns won’t need to be blown. Also included is a Metrolink electrification study.
The funds come from the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), which receives money from both the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and Senate Bill 1 to fund “transformative capital improvements that will modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure.” According to a press release from Metrolink, this is the largest grant it has ever received.
Other allocations at the CTC meeting were for:
- Sidings and double tracks to allow trains to pass each other at San Juan Capistrano and San Onofre ($4.7 million)
- Ten other TIRCP projects, including increased rail service from Sacramento to Roseville ($2 million), electric light rail vehicles for San Francisco ($28.8 million), expansion of SMART in Sonoma County ($21 million), Caltrain electrification ($3 million), electric buses in L.A. County ($36 million), money to purchase a diesel engine unit and convert it to electric for the Redlands Passenger Rail ($16.5 million), and others projects including one to integrate travel via transit in Northern California and improve train service between San Jose and Oakland.
- Local Partnership Program funds from S.B. 1, to study proposed light rail on L.A. County’s West Santa Ana Branch right-of-way ($18.5 million) and to upgrade fare collection equipment in L.A. County ($8.2 million)
- In addition, allocations were made to twelve Active Transportation Program projects, including Safe Routes to Schools and Complete Streets projects in Fortuna, Westminster, Berkeley, San Luis Obispo, Pasadena, Lake Elsinore, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and Buena Park; and a bikeway connection to the train in the city of Vista.
At the same meeting, the CTC allocated funds for numerous highway projects, including a road widening on a rural highway in Sacramento that will include bike lanes, and others.