San Diego should expect to see almost a half-billion dollars out of $5 billion in added transportation money being spent throughout the state.
A healthy economy has left the state budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year a $4.3 billion surplus, which Gov. Gray Davis has chosen to spend on needed one-time expenditures, said Michael Bustamante, the governor’s spokesman.
This will help provide a “down payment” on the infrastructure needed to move California forward into the 21st century, he said.
The governor’s budget for the next fiscal year will include $5.33 billion for highway and mass transit projects throughout the state, Bustamante said.
The funds for transportation will come out of general fund money and general obligation bonds. If passed by the state Legislature, it would be California’s biggest infusion of cash for transportation in the state’s history.
The lion’s share of the money will go to Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire, which together will get $2.2 billion. San Jose and the Bay Area will get $1.6 billion. San Diego’s share is $481 million.
“San Diego’s new housing is being built in outlying areas, resulting in longer commutes and increased congestion on major roadways,” Davis said in a press release. “In addition, the North American Free Trade Agreement has increased regional truck traffic by 40 percent. This increasing international commerce has added to travel throughout the area.”
San Diego leaders welcomed the news of a large infusion of funds.
“This is a critical moment for the San Diego region,” said Jesse Knight, president and chief executive officer of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce. “The governor should be commended for his leadership and vision in tackling these issues with long-term solutions.”
The chamber is looking forward to working with the governor to ensure his plan is carried out. In addition, the chamber will work with other state and local agencies on further strategies to combat congestion, he said.
Leon Williams, chairman of San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit Development Board, notes that $55 million of the state money will go to public transportation projects.
“We’re very pleased that San Diego’s most important transit projects are being recognized by the governor,” he said. “This will go a long way to get us nearer to our goal.”
The highest priority mass transit project , the extension of the light rail through Mission Valley East , is already being built with existing funds. The added revenue will help the MTDB get a jump on future projects, Williams added.
Among the projects the state money will help fund are:
– Double-tracking the rail line between San Diego and the Orange County line, and building a maintenance yard in San Diego County. Cost: $126 million.
– Purchase additional rail cars and engines to run the San Diego-Los Angeles route, with the cost being split between Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Cost to San Diego: $10 million.
– Purchase of 85 new alternative-fuel buses, for both MTDB and North County Transit. Cost: $30 million.
– Purchase of additional rail cars and engines for the Coaster. Cost: $14 million.
– Complete environmental studies to add capacity to the Route 94 corridor from Downtown to Route 125. Cost: $20 million.
– Improve access to light rail at the four stations along 12th Avenue and the Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown. Cost: $15 million.
– Build 20 miles of a new light rail line between Oceanside and Escondido. Cost: $253 million.
– Build a new light rail line along Interstate 5 from the Old Town trolley station to Balboa Avenue. Cost: $110 million.
– Acquire a high-speed ferry boat for rapid off-coast service between San Diego and Oceanside. Cost: $10 million in the form of a grant to Mari-Flite ferries, a private company that has been seeking state and federal transportation grants to launch its project.
– Reconstruct and widen the freeway interchange at the I-5/I-805 merge, north to Del Mar Heights. Cost: $135 million.
– Construct high-tech “managed lanes” on Interstate 15, south of San Diego. Cost: $160 million.
– Extend Highway 52 four miles to connect with Route 67. Cost: $230 million.
– Build Highway 905 as a new six-lane freeway between Interstate 805 and the Otay Mesa border crossing. Cost: $255 million.
– Realign Interstate 5 to Virginia Avenue as it approaches the San Ysidro port of entry, making room for additional inspection lanes northbound and southbound. Cost: $40 million.