Multiple Santa Barbara-area projects received grant funding from the California Department of Transportation this week.
“These grants are funding the planning for sustainable and more resilient transportation projects that will prepare the state for rising sea levels, wildfires and other climate-related impacts,” said Steven Keck, the Caltrans interim director. “By collaborating with local communities, we are working together to achieve both our climate goals and an equitable transportation infrastructure for people who rely on transit and intercity bus service.”
Two projects in Santa Barbara County, in particular, received $425,000 from Caltrans.
The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments is the recipient of $125,00 for updates to the region’s Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan.
This is the only region-wide plan for the human services transportation network. Human services include social service agencies and nonprofits that have daily interactions with residents and clients who rely on transit services for day-to-day needs, such as medical services.
“We know there is potential for improvements in the coordination of the public transit systems for those who depend on these systems to meet their day-to-day needs,” Michael Becker, director of planning for SBCAG, told the News-Press. “We are thrilled that this grant will help us coordinate a thorough countywide evaluation. We look forward to working with the public to hopefully bring about meaningful improvements to how people can move and travel using public and human service transportation systems in our country.”
The plan was last updated in 2007, and the updated planning process is expected to begin this fall with a completion date of summer 2023.
SBCAG will assess the public and private transportation systems operating within the region and consider potential efficiencies that could benefit both providers and customers.
Completion of the plan is expected to help transit operators apply and qualify for federal funding as well.
Additionally, Caltrans awarded the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments $300,000 for a California Central Coast Sustainable Freight Study in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.
As the project description notes, freight-dependent industries drive the Central Coast’s economy, particularly in the agriculture, food processing and manufacturing industries.
The study, which is expected to begin later this year and be completed by 2025, will establish a framework for how to balance the economic health of freight-dependent industries while also improving livability and environmental impacts. The study will focus on freight system trends and needs as well as zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.
“Remaining competitive for funding opportunities to improve the regional transportation network is critical for a healthy economy,” Sarkes Khacheck, director of programming for SBCAG, told the News-Press. “When we think about the $50 billion industry of freight traffic that travels through the Central Coast and the potential to improve a more efficient, economically competitive and less polluting future, we see the overwhelming benefits of partnering on an up-to-date California Central Coast Sustainable Freight Study.”
The Ventura County Transportation Commission received more than $326,000 for its study of wildlife movement in the Conejo Pass Area.
Arroyo Grande in San Luis Obispo County received more than $221,000 for its Active Transportation Plan; San Luis Obispo Council of Governments was awarded $296,000 for its County Vehicle Miles Traveled Mitigation Program.
Overall, Caltrans awarded more than $34.7 million in state and federal funds to cities, counties, tribes and transit agencies for sustainable transportation projects this week. Of that, $25 million was funded by SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
A list of the projects can be found here: dot.ca.gov/-/media/dot-media/programs/transportation-planning/documents/sustainable-planning-grants-2021/04012022-update/1-fy-2022-23-stpg-award-list.pdf.