Placer County Transportation report

Reported by Chuck Robuck, CC Riders President, RailPAC Member from Auburn

FYI, I attended this meeting as a CC Rider rep and wanted to give you a brief recap.

BACKGROUND

The purpose of the meeting was to reconstitute the Funding Strategy Steering Committee that had been established several years ago to look at Placer County Transportation needs, projects and funding and develop recommendations. The committee is made up of elected officials throughout the County, as well as other interested parties (Sierra Club, Transit Riders, Developers, Law Enforcement, CALTRANS etc), so there is a good mix of viewpoints.

This committee had worked over the last 3 yrs to make recommendations to the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) about how to fund some $3.7 Billion in Placer County transportation projects over the next 30 years. These projects include transit improvements (bus, train, light rail, etc), pedestrian and bicycle projects, and major highway improvements including bottleneck reduction on I-80, Placer Parkway, and Hwys 49 & 65. In addition, the plan includes a significant portion of the funding would be distributed to local jurisdictions to use to meet their unique transportation needs.

The last time we met in November 2007, it was decided to defer placing a proposition on the 2008 Placer County ballot to establish a ½ cent transportation sales tax to provide some of the project funding needed, primarily because there were concerns, supported by pollsters, that the 2/3’s needed to pass the measure would not be achieved. At that time it was decided to defer this proposal until at least the 2010 election.

CURRENT SITUATION

As we are all painfully aware, since the last committee meeting in 2007, we have witnessed historic declines in the economy. This has and will put severe strains on the amount of money that is available to meet transportation need over the coming decades. While the Federal Government is looking to stimulate the economy with an infusion of capital funding for infrastructure, it is doubtful that locally we will be able to take full advantage of those dollars without commitment of local funding.

To achieve this, PCTPA has re-established the Funding Strategy Steering Committee to take a fresh look at the following:

  • Transportation Needs & Priorities over the next 30 Years
  • Revenues that can be generated to help pay for these.
  • Proposals for additional revenues are many, including:

  • High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
  • Toll Roads
  • Transportation Sales Tax
  • Gasoline Sales Tax
  • Additional Developer Impact Fees (some of these are already being considered, but development is essentially stagnant and may remain so for quite some time)
  • Vehicle Mileage Fees (charging drivers fees based on mileage driven)
  • Congestion Pricing
  • Tax Credits
  • Others
  • While the Committee previously examined many of these options, we will be examining them anew, along with other ideas that you and others may have.

    BOTTOM LINE – WHAT’S NEXT

    The Committee is scheduled to meet again in early to mid March 2009. At that meeting PCTPA will present updated estimates on the cost of projects already identified as well as estimated revenues that could be generated by the various revenue proposals listed above. They will send this information out to Committee Members in advance of the meeting, and I will pass that along to you for your review and input.

    When I pass that info along, I would ask for your comments regarding:

  • the projects listed and any additional ones you feel are important to solving the region’s long-term transportation challenges.
  • the revenue proposals listed and others you would like to be considered
  • The bottom line is that we either need to address the needs through a variety of means, or face increasingly congested highways and gridlock.

    Here are a few interesting transportation-related fact presented at yesterday’s meeting. If you’re interested in seeing the complete presentation here’s the link: http://www.fixplacertraffic.org/library/SC_powerpoint_8dec08.pdf

  • It takes an average of 16 years to bring a major highway project from concept to construction
  • The buying power of the gas tax in 2000 was only about 1/3 of its 1970 value, resulting in California having the second worst road conditions in the US.
  • 19 California counties have transportation sales taxes which generate nearly $3B annually for their local projects.
  • Placer’s population will nearly double between 2008 and 2035 to about 585,000
  • Placer Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) is projected to grow faster than the population
  • Transit demand in Placer is projected to triple through 2035
  • Comments are closed.