Ventura Adopts Comprehensive Transportation Plan: Advocates ask for Complete Streets

On September 6th, the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) unanimously adopted its first Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP). The CTP outlines funding priorities for the county over the next 30 years and outlines the funding gap needed to maintain and expand the transportation system to deal with future growth.  Ventura County is currently the only county in Southern California that does not benefit from having a dedicated sales tax for transportation. This means that Ventura County is entirely dependent on state and federal sources of revenue. The plan estimates that over the next 30 years, the county will fall short of the transportation revenues it needs to maintain and expand the system by approximately $1.3 billion.

The CTP projects that approximately 5 percent or $230 million of the plan’s 30 year budget will be spent on Active Transportation. This is equivalent to about $7.5 million per year, an amount that falls short of the countywide need to retrofit existing sidewalks and bike paths and build new ones.  What is promising is that almost a quarter (23 percent) of the funding in the CTP is for local roads. This means that if VCTC were to adopt a Complete Streets policy it could drastically improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians (which account for 17 percent of roadway fatalities and 12 percent of roadway injuries) in all of its roadway projects.

Currently about half of the cities in Ventura County have adopted Complete Streets policies or updated their general plans to incorporate Complete Streets elements. A county level policy would thus bring VCTC in line with both AB 1358 which requires local cities to adopt complete streets when they update their circulation elements and DD 64 R1 which is a Caltrans policy that applies to any Caltrans funded project.

At the adoption of the plan, representatives from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, VCCOOL and Fillmore High School spoke to the need for including additional language in the plan related to Complete Streets and that VCTC should consider adopting a Complete Streets policy that would support safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Several members of the VCTC board spoke up in favor of this idea and several small modifications were made to the plan language prior to its adoption.

Since its adoption a group of advocates from cities across Ventura County have begun to meet on a regular basis to discuss next steps. The newly formed “Ventura County Active Transportation Coalition” will be working on a number of countywide active transportation issues and encourages individuals and organizations who are interested to get involved. VCCOOL is currently acting as the point of contact for the new Coalition and anyone wishing to get involved can request to receive meeting notices by emailing or calling the office  at 805-641-2665.

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