The San Diego Association of Governments (Sandag) accepted five California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) grants, including a $100,000 grant for a coordinated plan for rural transit and vans. The grant raises hopes that a FAST-like service will be restored in Ramona.
The original application included improving public transportation between Ramona and the Santa Ysabel Reservation Indian Health Center and service from Ramona through the Barona reservation to connect with the bus line that runs from El Cajon to the Viejas reservation. When the Reservation Transportation Authority did not receive all of the money it applied for, the proposal was scaled down to eliminate those routes.
A second grant, for $250,000, will be used to study the region’s aggregate supply. Aggregate materials include sand, gravel, and crushed stone, and the use of aggregate includes foundation base materials under roads and rails.
Sandag’s Executive Committee, which has the authority to approve acceptance of such grants, OK’d the grants Nov. 14 without opposition.
In September, Caltrans informed Sandag of plans to award four transportation planning grants totaling $738,728. Caltrans also has a Special Studies grant program to study issues of interest to Caltrans, and, since aggregate supply is an element of highway construction, Caltrans informed Sandag of the $250,000 grant award in October. The grants have local match requirements, which Sandag will fulfill through Transportation Development Act (TDA) funding.
The Rural Coordinated Transportation Planning Project is intended to provide a more in-depth analysis of transit and van opportunities in the rural areas. The plan includes developing solutions designed to improve coordination of the limited transportation resources allocated to rural areas.
“When we do the next update of the plan, we can do a more detailed plan,” said SANDAG senior transit planner Dan Levy.
In addition to the $100,000 Caltrans grant, the project will be funded by $12,956 of TDA planning and administration revenue.
Because work will not begin during Fiscal Year 2008-09, no budget adjustments were necessary.
“We got the grant, so now we can start planning how we’re going to spend it,” Levy said. “We’ll certainly have outreach meetings throughout the rural areas.”
Those outreach meetings may include chambers of commerce and community planning groups, and they will also include Indian reservations and health and human service agencies.
“It’s not just transit. It’s also human service transportation,” Levy said.
In August 2007, the Reservation Transportation Authority (RTA), which includes 20 member tribes in San Diego and Riverside Counties, applied for a $928,000 Tribal Transit grant to enhance services between reservations and towns, transit centers, and health centers.
In March 2008, the Federal Transit Administration awarded $425,104 to the RTA, and the funding will be used to turn the North County Transit District’s Route 388, which runs between Escondido and the Pala Indian Reservation, into a loop. The routing of the new segment along Interstate 15 would result in express service between Pala and Escondido, and the enhanced service is expected to begin in January 2009.
Ridership on the lines funded by Tribal Transit money is not restricted to tribal members. “We’ll be looking at what other improvements can be made,” Levy said.
Media announcements and mailings to rural health and human service agencies are expected in July or August 2009. Community and tribal council meetings are anticipated for August and September 2009, while the creation of survey instruments and completion of surveys are expected by September 2009 and maps of identified health and human service agency transportation services are anticipated by October 2009.
A draft report is expected in November 2009 with the final report scheduled for June 2010.
The aggregate study will provide SANDAG and Caltrans with information regarding the location of aggregate resources in the San Diego region.
“What we hope to do is take the whole county, not just Liberty or any of the quarries,” said Sandag Executive Director Gary Gallegos.
The proposed Liberty Quarry is actually located just north of the Riverside County border. The goal of the study is to reduce transportation impacts of aggregate supply needed for San Diego County.
“We’re running out of sources here in San Diego, so this is an attempt to figure out ‘what do we have here?’,” Gallegos said.
The study will focus not only on existing or planned quarries but on all areas in which aggregate materials might be available.
“That will give us a chance to overlay this with our habitat plans,” Gallegos said.
In November 2007 a presentation to the SANDAG board addressed the need for aggregate supply sources. SANDAG staff was directed to evaluate options for addressing the issue, and SANDAG along with Caltrans District 11 applied for the Special Studies grant.
The study will provide a comprehensive review of aggregate sources in the region, clarify the needs and issues surrounding the supply, and develop a regional geographical information systems (GIS) data base to allow for the visualization of aggregate sources with informational overlays.
Work on the aggregate study will begin in Fiscal Year 2009, so the approval of the grant award also included a mid-year 2008-09 budget adjustment of staff hours and required matching fund appropriations for the project to be moved from the GIS services, goods movement planning, and service bureau budgets.
A total of 2,060 Sandag staff hours are expected to be spent on the study between Fiscal Year 2008-09 and Fiscal Year 2009-11. The total cost of staff time, contracted services, and other direct costs is estimated to be $300,000, and a $50,000 match from TDA planning and administrative revenue was transferred from the other projects’ 2008-09 budgets.
Fiscal Year 2008-09 activities include establishing the project team, holding a kickoff meeting, developing a tool to estimate aggregate needs, researching available geologic and geographic information, compiling the data, and performing quality control. The refinement of the scope of work, selection of the project team, and procurement of any necessary consultants or other subcontractors is expected to be complete by March 2009. A kickoff meeting is expected to take place in March or April 2009, the research of available information and estimation of needs are likely to be completed by April 2009, the compilation is scheduled for completion by May 2009, and quality assurance to resolve discrepancies is expected to take place in June 2009.
Evaluation of the potential of future TransNet mitigation lands for aggregate supply is expected to be finished by September 2009, an estimation of haul distances and model scenarios based on current mine locations is anticipated by October 2009, development of additional information is expected to be complete by November 2009, an estimation of the environmental impacts due to hauling is scheduled for completion by February 2010, a public information session is expected in April or May 2010, and a final report is scheduled to be complete in August 2010.