March 27, 2020 2:00 PM, EDT

California Agency Approves $2.6 Billion for Multimodal Improvements

Truck in San Bernardino County, Calif.A truck on the road in San Bernardino County, Calif. (Getty Images)

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The California Transportation Commission recently approved $2.6 billion in funding for multimodal improvement projects.

The commission, which is an independent public agency in charge of allocating state and federal transportation funds for highway, rail, transit and aeronautic purposes, approved the funding as part of the State Transportation Improvement Program at its meeting March 25. The funds will be made available over five years.

The commission members pressed on with their business despite the coronavirus. Their meeting was conducted via teleconference, in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to limit in-person gatherings during the pandemic. According to the California Department of Public Health, there have been 3,006 positive cases in the state as of March 25.

California Transportation Commission Chair Paul Van Konynenburg

Van Konynenburg

“The commission recognizes that COVID-19 will have unprecedented impacts on the health, safety and mobility of California’s residents,” Commission Chair Paul Van Konynenburg said. “During these challenging times, the commission plans to keep working to dedicate funds to multimodal transportation projects in order to provide benefits to the residents of California.”

Besides sustaining existing projects, the State Transportation Improvement Program dedicates funds to more than 30 new projects. Those include express lanes on routes in San Bernardino and San Diego, a bridge replacement in Sacramento, interchange improvements in Riverside and zero-emissions buses in Los Angeles.

“Today’s actions provide critical funding for high-priority projects identified by both the state and regional agencies to meet California’s multimodal transportation needs,” Van Konynenburg said.

California Transportation Commission logo

Also during the meeting, the commission announced calls for new transportation projects, making a total of $2.4 billion available. The commission approved funding guidelines for three programs, which are dedicated to trade corridors, local partnerships and active transportation.

The Trade Corridor Enhancement Program makes $1.4 billion available to fund infrastructure improvements along routes that have a high volume of freight movement. The Local Partnership Program dedicates $600 million to cities, counties and regional transportation agencies that have passed tax measures or imposed fees dedicated solely to transportation improvements. Some $446 million was directed to the Active Transportation Program, which funds projects to increase the use of modes such as walking and biking.

Funding for these programs and the State Transportation Improvement Program is made possible by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The legislation, also known as Senate Bill 1 (SB1), raised the tax for diesel by 20 cents to 36 cents per gallon and for gasoline by 12 cents to 41.7 cents per gallon.

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The application deadline for the trade corridor program is July 15. The deadline for the local partnerships program is June 12. Applications for the active transportation program are due June 15.

The commission also is accepting applications for its Solutions for Congested Corridors Program, which provides $494 million over the next two years. The program’s purpose is to reduce congestion in the state through transportation, environmental and community access improvements. Applications are due June 30.

Due to the coronavirus, the commission indicated that the due dates for the applications are subject to modification, which the group will discuss at its next meeting May 13.

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