California’s Transportation Funds Make Slow Strides to Sustainability

It’s increasingly understood that if California wants to meet its ambitious climate goals, we need to move away from transportation and land use planning that centers around the automobile. The state needs to align its transportation funding to support the creation of livable, healthy communities that integrate walking and bicycling to school, work, home, and key destinations. The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is one of the state transportation funding sources that has traditionally lacked strong ties to our state’s sustainability goals and primarily funded big, expensive highway projects. In fact, 81 percent of the 2014 STIP went to highway expansion while only 2 percent funded active transportation.

Over the past year, the National Partnership worked with key statewide partners to better align the STIP with our state’s ambitious goals to shift funding away from highway expansion to focus on creating livable communities where residents – especially children – could safely walk or bicycle. Our work has focused on shaping the 2016 STIP guidelines to better reflect California’s regional and statewide goals. Last week, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) held a workshop to update stakeholders on the 2016 STIP.  And there was some good news! From our previous comment letter to our most recent one, we saw the following improvements in the draft 2016 STIP guidelines:

  • Recognition of state goals: The 2016 STIP will now recognize regional and statewide goals and objectives in the improvement of the state’s multimodal transportation system
  • Simplified Performance Measures: Performance Measures went down from 34 to 14! They now focus on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), mode share, and fatalities/injuries per capita per mode
  • Improved transparency: the CTC will host workshops in Northern and Southern California on the Interregional Transportation Improvement Plan (ITIP) and all regional agencies will post their Regional Transportation Improvement Plans (RTIPs) on-line
  • Consideration of Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-30-15: The 2016 STIP guidelines require regional agencies to consider the Executive Order – which calls for 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – when considering new projects for the 2016 STIP
  • Identify the Exemptions: Regional agencies will now need to identify which proposed or current transportation projects are exempt from SB 375 – which set GHG reduction targets for each of the region’s transportation plans.

While we celebrate these improvements, there is still more work to be done to ensure that this state funding source prioritizes walking and bicycling. Right now – due to lack of funding – it is likely that the 2016 STIP Fund Estimate and Guidelines will be delayed from the original August adoption date. With that delay, the National Partnership will work with our partners to submit a follow-up letter to further emphasize that the 2016 STIP must prioritize transportation projects – specifically bicycle and walking – that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support our state goals.

For those who want to get involved, please email Chanell at chanell “AT” saferoutespartnership “DOT” org

More funds for transportation with Governor’s extraordinary session!

In June – immediately following passage of this year’s state budget – Governor Jerry Brown called for an extraordinary session to create a permanent  funding source to maintain and repair the state’s transportation and infrastructure. California’s transportation system is in jeopardy: investments have not kept up with the demands on the system which has led to decay and deterioration of our current transportation system. This session is critical to provide permanent revenue that will revive our transportation system and infrastructure.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership worked with key partners to submit recommendations to the Legislature ensure that the revenue supports our state’s ambitious climate goals as stated in AB 32, SB 375, SB 391, and the Governor’s Executive Order B-30-15. Specifically, we recommend:

  • This revenue should ensure that all transportation projects – including maintenance projects – reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • All transportation investments prioritize the mobility and safety needs of disadvantaged communities and avoid negative impacts on these communities
  • Maintenance projects should improve multimodal access and create complete streets
  • All investments should avoid impacts, if not enhance California’s natural resources, wildlife movement, and agricultural lands
  • Invest in transit by leveraging GGRF funds and increasing ridership

Click here to read our full recommendations. If you want to get involved, please contact Chanell at chanell@saferoutespartnership.org.

MTC Proposes Funding Safe Routes to School for Six More Years

Staff for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) have proposed continuing to fund the Regional Safe Routes to School (RSTS) program for an additional six years at $5 million per year.

MTC Logo

This good news represents a full funding of $25 million for Cycle 2 of the One Bay Area Grant (OBAG), as well as a restoration of full funding for the final supplemental year of OBAG 1, 2016-2017. Originally, funding for that year had been cut in half, but advocates and MTC commissioners raised concerns about those cuts at a meeting last December.

The funding proposal was presented to MTC’s Programming and Allocations Committee at an informational hearing mid July, but an actual vote will not come till later in the year.

In a shift from earlier in the year, MTC is also recommending maintaining the process for disbursing funding according to school enrollment figures, rather than using the OBAG formula, which would have changed the amount of funding that went to each county while holding the regional total constant. By keeping the original formula, the RSTS program will remain essentially unchanged.

The OBAG 2 proposal also advances an alteration of the region’s Complete Streets requirement that had been contained in OBAG 1: Instead of requiring every jurisdiction to update their General Plan circulation element, MTC proposes requiring jurisdictions to pass their model policy resolution with its minimum criteria, or certify that the General Plan currently meets the Complete Streets Act criteria. What’s different from last cycle is that a jurisdiction can’t self-certify a General Plan if it hasn’t been updated since 2010. Jurisdictions with older circulation elements will either need to update them or pass the MTC resolution.

 

MTC Announces Regional ATP Cycle 2 Workshops

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) announced three Bay Area workshops to provide guidance on applying for the Regional Competitive Active Transportation Program (ATP) Cycle 2.

Information and a flyer can be found here.

MTC Logo

Forty percent of the state ATP funding is being awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. At least 25% required to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million.

Topics for the workshops will include:

  • Statewide vs. Regional Program Guidelines
  • Timeline, scoring criteria, and application overview
  • Best practices on gathering data and lessons learned from Cycle 1
  • On-site discussion and Q&A with MTC and Caltrans staff

These sessions are open to anyone but will be tailored to new applicants, applicants seeking assistance in preparing a competitive application, and agencies or organizations interested in partnering on an application.

LOCATIONS:

North Bay –

Wednesday, April 8, 2015; 1:00p – 3:00p

Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency

625 Burnell Street

Napa, CA 94559

Central Bay –

Tuesday, April 14, 2015; 1:00p – 3:00p

Metropolitan Transportation Commission

101-8th Street, 1st Floor, Auditorium

Oakland, CA 94607

South Bay –

Thursday, April 16, 2015; 1:00p – 3:00p

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

3331 N. First St., Auditorium

San Jose CA  95134-1927

Please register via email to Marcella Aranda at maranda@mtc.ca.gov, no later than Wednesday, April 1. Please be sure make the subject line of your RSVP email: “ATP CYCLE 2 WORKSHOP – (location)”. Space is limited for each of the locations so please refrain from submitting an RSVP for multiple locations.

 

MTC Releases Regional ATP Cycle 2 Draft Guidelines

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today released the staff recommendations for draft guidelines for the 2015 Cycle 2 Regional Competitive Active Transportation Program (ATP). MTC Logo

Forty percent of the state ATP funding will be awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. Twenty-five percent of funding is to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million. The amount for this year will be determined through the state budget process.

The draft guidelines build off of last years’. Changes include awarding additional points if the jurisdiction of a project sponsor has passed a Complete Streets policy, or if the project is consistent with countywide goals as determined by the Congestion Management Agency.

MTC’s regional ATP call for projects this year will match the state’s to avoid any confusion between the two processes. The call for projects will be March 26, with a due date of June 1, 2015.

The MTC Programming and Allocations Committee will review the draft guidelines at its Feb 11 meeting. The full Commission will then finalize the guidelines at its meeting on Feb 25.

 

MTC Votes to Support Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets

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Last Wednesdsay, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted to fully fund the Regional Safe Routes to School (RSTS) program for a fifth year, and also reiterated a committment to advancing Complete Streets.
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Responding to a shortfall in federal funds, MTC staff and the Programming and Allocations Committee had proposed extending the RSRTS program by one year, but at half the funding ($2.7 million as opposed to the current yearly allocation of $5 million). Advocates weighed in that the RSTS is vital to support the health, safety, and education of children, and that the effective cut would result in potential program layoffs and schools being cut from the program. Commissioners at the meeting spoke up in agreement with these concerns, and added that the RSTS helps MTC meet its adopted health, safety, and climate change goals.
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In the end, commissioners voted unanimously to direct MTC staff to make up the $2.3 million shortfall and present options for doing so to the commission within six months as part of a broader discussion of the next cycle of RSTS and One Bay Area Grant funding.
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Another aspect of the vote maintains the Complete Streets requirement in OBAG, but delays by one year a requirement that General Plan circulation elements be updated. MTC requires jurisdictions to pass a resolution or certify that their General Plan complies with California’s Complete Streets Act in order to receive OBAG funds. Over ninety-percent of jurisdictions have complied with this policy.
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However, jurisdictions that passed a resolution were to also update their General Plan by the end of January 2015. Last Wednesday’s vote maintains this requirement but delays it by one year. Advocates delivered a sign on letter with 12 signatories to MTC expressing concern that the requirement not be dropped, and instead engage a conversation with  walking, bicycling, Safe Routes to School, and active transportation stakeholders and advocates to determine the best next steps.

MTC Updates Policies Related to Active Transportation

MTC Updates Guidance on Countywide Transportation Plans (CTPs) 
MTC has released an update to its guidance to counties on how to update their Countywide Transportation Plans. Thanks to the hard work of active transportation and equity advocates, the guidance specifies that counties must MTC Logoaddress active transportation needs, Complete Streets, and Safe Routes to School in their plans, as well as conduct an equity analysis.
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MTC Finalizes Guidance on TDA-3 Requirements
MTC released a final guidance on complying with requirements to receive TDA-3 funds. This was the end of a long-standing campaign to keep in place a requirement that recipients of TDA-3 funds maintain a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) or utilize an appropriate countywide committee. This process started with advocacy last year that included key MTC committee and commission votes.

Bay Area Regional ATP Awards Finalized

On November 12, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) list of awards for the 2014 Regional Competitive ActiMTC Logove Transportation Program (ATP). MTC approved funding 11 projects totaling $30.9 million in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and for the regional bicycle share program. The final description of projects can be found here.

Forty percent of the state ATP funding is being awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. At least 25% required to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million. MTC received 127 applications requesting over $200 million.

$9.8 Million Available through Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants

Caltrans has released the Call for Applications for the 2015-2016 Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants. $9.8 million is available to regional and local government agencies through two programs—the Strategic Partnerships grants and the Sustainable Communities grants.

The Strategic Partnerships grants fund planning projects that address statewide/interregional deficiencies in the state highway system and strengthen government-to-government relationships. Example project types include corricaltrans logodor studies, studies for relinquishment of state routes, transportation demand management plans, and system investment prioritization plans.

The Sustainable Communities grants fund planning projects that address multimodal transportation deficiencies, encourage stakeholder collaboration, involve active public engagement, and integrate Smart Mobility 2010 concepts. Example project types include Safe Routes to School plans, complete street plans, bicycle and pedestrian safety enhancement plans, health equity transportation studies, and studies that evaluate accessibility and connectivity of the multimodal transportation network.

Applications are due October 31st!

We encourage communities to apply for these grants as they are excellent opportunities to move your multimodal transportation initiatives forward. The National Partnership is available to support your efforts to work with Caltrans to create a balanced, comprehensive multimodal transportation system by providing feedback on your application or through a formal partnership as a sub-applicant. Please contact Michelle Lieberman, Technical Assistance Project Manager, at michelle@saferoutespartnership.org to discuss ways in which we can support your efforts.

Visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/grants.html for more information about the grants and to download application materials.

 

MTC Finalizes Regional ATP Award Recommendations

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) this week finalized awards for the 2014 Regional Competitive Active Transportation Program (ATP).  MTC approved funding 11 projects totaling $30.9 million in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and for the regional bicycle share program. This represents the addition of one project in Contra Costa County over the earlier MTC staff proposal. The final description of projects can be found here.

MTC Logo

Forty percent of the state ATP funding is being awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. At least 25% required to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million. MTC received 127 applications requesting over $200 million.

This list still needs final approval from the California Transportation Commission (CTC), which will consider adopting the regional portion of ATP on November 12.

 

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