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Transportation Leaders Applaud Historic Investment in Public Transportation and Connecting California

June 20, 2014:

SACRAMENTO—Following Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s signing of the 2014-2015 Budget Act, California Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly joined with transportation leaders around the state to praise the largest ongoing transportation investment in decades.

“This year’s budget marks the first time in decades that California has made a long-term commitment to improving transportation and connecting California’s transportation systems in a meaningful way,” California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly said. “The Governor’s budget includes significant, ongoing investments in public transportation and multimodal transportation that will help connect California and improve quality of life for years to come.”

The 2014-15 budget includes a $1.7 billion transportation funding package including:

  • $300 million in ongoing funding for new and existing public transportation,
  • $130 million for public transit and building sustainable communities through affordable housing and active transportation projects,
  • $351 million in general fund loan repayments to help preserve and maintain California roads,
  • $160 million in bond funding for intercity rail, and
  • $793 million in bond funding for transit capital investment.

“As owners and operators of the local component of California’s transportation system, California counties greatly appreciate the investment in local streets and roads, regional transportation plans and transit—all critical to achieve a multi-modal, seamless transportation system,” said Matt Cate, Executive Director, California State Association of Counties. “The Governor remains committed to investing in our transportation system with a clear focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. California counties fully support the regional transportation plans that are expected to ultimately achieve that goal.”

“We are pleased to see significant infrastructure investments included in the final budget, including for transportation. Cities are ready to put the transportation funds to work quickly,” said Chris McKenzie, Executive Director, League of California Cities. “In addition, the continuous appropriation of Cap and Trade Auction Revenues for transit, affordable housing and sustainable communities will fund critical projects in communities across the state. We appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the great need for these important infrastructure investments.”

The budget act appropriates 40 percent of future cap and trade auction proceeds to transit and rail investment. This includes 25 percent of proceeds for the high-speed rail project and 15 percent for bus and rail operators across California. Among many projects expected to benefit the state’s rail investment is the extension of tracks at Los Angeles Union Station, in part with $175 million in Prop 1A high-speed rail funding, to increase rail capacity up to 50 percent. State funding also provided $115 million in connectivity funds to help build a light rail connection for a one-seat ride throughout Los Angeles County and over $600 million for the Caltrain electrification project.

“We applaud the Legislature and the Governor for approving a committed, ongoing funding source for the implementation of SB 375 through the Sustainable Communities program. California’s regions, who are responsible for developing innovative strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions and meet the requirements of SB 375, look forward to working with the Administration to establish guidelines and a regionally balanced distribution method for the funds,” said Bill Higgins, Executive Director, California Association of Councils of Governments, which represents California’s Councils of Governments, including the state’s regional and metropolitan planning organizations.

“Today Governor Brown signed into law a state budget and a landmark expenditure plan for state Cap and Trade revenues, including significant new resources to enhance public transportation services for all Californians and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” said California Transit Association executive director Joshua W. Shaw. “The plan provides formula funding for transit operations and capital programs, ensuring predictability to transit agencies statewide; makes transit funding available for a statewide competitive program to be managed by the state’s transportation agencies, thus ensuring the most innovative projects rise to the top; funds the implementation of regional sustainable communities strategies that will make local transit services more effective and efficient; and, incentivizes the commercialization of low-carbon transit vehicle technologies.”

“This package,” continued Shaw, “including progress towards integrating local and regional rail services into the state’s high-speed rail transit system, offers an historic investment opportunity for public transportation and our communities depending on enhanced and cleaner mobility options. Expanding and improving transit service will provide significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions everywhere in California, especially in disadvantaged communities throughout the state, helping achieve the goals of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The Governor also called for, and signed into law today as part of the budget, an appropriation of the remaining transit funds from Proposition 1B; our transit systems will immediately put those dollars to work, purchasing newer, cleaner buses and expanding rail transit systems all over the state.”

“Thanks to Governor Brown, State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and other key legislative leaders, California now has a long-term plan for Cap and Trade expenditures that addresses the funding needs of critical state, regional and local public transit services so that we can improve the transit network and get more people out of their cars,” said Michael J. Scanlon General Manager/CEO, San Mateo County Transit District. “The resources allocated to the Peninsula will be used for our most pressing and immediate needs: modernizing Caltrain service and continuing to improve SamTrans bus service. Through these efforts we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take vehicles off already congested roads.”

“All Californians need to thank Governor Brown and legislative leadership for crafting this multi-faceted funding program designed to target clean air resources and transit investments where they’re needed most,” said Donna DeMartino, general manager/CEO of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, and chair of the California Transit Association. “Our Association’s leadership, its member public transit systems and its private sector industry suppliers look forward to working with Governor Brown’s Administration and the Legislature to move this important program forward and ensure effective transit projects and services are delivered to the millions of Californians who need and rely on public transit.”

This budget also directly supports the recommendations of the Transportation Agency in the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities initial report issued by the agency earlier this year, including calls for dedicated, pay-as-you-go funding sources for transportation.

Dedicated funding sources allow construction projects to leverage a funding commitment to obtain more project support. Last week, high-speed rail pointed to letters from potential private sector investors who express interest subject in the project if there were a dedicated, long-term funding source. The continuing commitments for high speed rail and transit in this year’s budget will help secure a multimodal transportation system to help connect Californians for decades.

“The commitment by the Governor and the Legislature to provide ongoing cap and trade funding to high-speed rail means we can accelerate our program to connect California and transform passenger rail in the state,” said Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “This budget enables us to continue work on the high-speed rail backbone in the Central Valley and advance the program on multiple segments, while stepping up projects with local and regional partners, leveraging new funding sources and attracting private investment.”

Additional details on the 2014-15 state budget are available here: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/

Transportation Agency Announces “Bike Month” Mileage Competition Results

June 10, 2014

The California State Transportation Agency today announced that state agencies and departments across California have reported more than 550,000 miles of biking during the “May Is Bike Month” statewide employer challenges.

“This Administration is committed to improving transportation—and public health—by supporting healthy and sustainable transportation options,'” said Secretary Brian Kelly. “We led by example in May, collectively biking more than half-a-million miles to celebrate Bike Month.”

“May Is Bike Month” is an annual event that promotes bicycling in California by allowing employers and individuals to log commute, errand and recreation bike miles during the month of May. This year, all state departments and agencies logged 557,517 miles of biking as part of the small, medium and larger employer challenges. All participants biked a total of approximately 1.9 million miles, a twelve percent increase over last year’s mileage.

Californians are increasingly embracing the environmental and public health benefits of active transportation including cycling and walking. A recently released Caltrans California Household Travel Survey revealed that, statewide, 23 percent of household trips are made via non-car transportation, more than double the participation 10 years ago.

In response to this increased demand, and as part of its effort to modernize its operations, Caltrans recently endorsed National Association of City Transportation Officials’ guidelines that include innovations such as buffered bike lanes and improved pedestrian walkways. California is the third state in the nation to endorse these new design guidelines. Increasing opportunities for walking and bicycling in California helps improve public health and curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, Governor Brown signed legislation (Senate Bill 99, Chapter 359 and Assembly Bill 101, Chapter 354) creating the new Active Transportation Program, which distributes funding for human-powered transportation projects and programs. The new $360 million program replaced a patchwork of small grant programs with a comprehensive program that is more efficient. Caltrans began accepting applications from cities and counties in April 2014.

For more information on “May Is Bike Month,” including the latest mileage data, visit: http://www.mayisbikemonth.com/challenges

CALTRANS BACKS INNOVATIVE STREET DESIGN GUIDES TO PROMOTE BIKING AND WALKING

April 11, 2014

SACRAMENTO--In an effort to support the construction of more multimodal local streets and roads, Caltrans today endorsed National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) guidelines that include innovations such as buffered bike lanes and improved pedestrian walkways.

“California’s transportation system must be multimodal and support bicycles and pedestrians as well as automobiles,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Caltrans’ endorsement of these innovative street design options is an important part of modernizing our approach to improving transportation for all Californians.”

Today’s announcement makes California the third state in the nation to endorse these new design guidelines. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also supports this flexible approach to bike and pedestrian transportation design.

State Smart Transportation Initiative, which recently published an independent assessment of Caltrans, recommended endorsing these guidelines as part of an effort to modernize the department and increase the sustainability of California’s transportation system.

All streets within cities and towns may use the new guidelines. In addition to endorsing the new guidelines for local streets and roads, these guidelines can be referenced for city streets that are part of the state highway system. Caltrans is also evaluating the guidelines for future updates to the Highway Design Manual, the standard for building on the state’s highway system.

“My Great Streets Initiative is reimagining our streets to make our communities more livable, sustainable, and safe,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I look forward to working with Caltrans and Los Angeles city staff to immediately begin using the NACTO design guidelines as we pursue a multimodal vision for L.A.'s transportation system.”

“We will strengthen the dynamic, effective partnership with Caltrans to build safer, stronger transportation infrastructure,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “By working together we can help establish the State as a leader for designing safe and people-oriented streets.”

The guidelines are based on successful innovations including separated bikeways and pedestrian refuge islands. Some of the new design features that cities could implement under these new guidelines include: 

Buffered or separated bike lanes, to separate cyclists from traffic.

Bike boxes, which allow cyclists to queue during congested traffic and improve left turns.

Flexibility in pedestrian access and sidewalk design, to enhance quality of life.

Caltrans’ endorsement of the NACTO guidelines is part of an ongoing effort to integrate a multimodal and flexible approach to transportation planning and design, to provide Californians with more transportation choices. In 2012, Caltrans updated its Highway Design Manual to facilitate the design of Complete Streets, which incorporates a multimodal approach to highway design. Caltrans also recently published Main Street, California – a Guide for Improving Community and Transportation Vitality.

A recently released Caltrans California Household Travel Survey revealed that, statewide, 23 percent of household trips are made via non-car transportation, more than double than 10 years ago. Caltrans and cities across the state are eager to support this trend.

“Business leaders prioritize active transportation as an important tactic for lowering our environmental impact and increasing people’s health, productivity and happiness,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “Designing safer roads will further help attract creative entrepreneurs to our cities and towns.”

Visit the NACTO website for more information on the Urban Street Design Guide, including photos and videos of new sidewalk and pedestrian facilities. The NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide also includes photos and videos of protected bikeways and other innovative transportation design features.

 “Caltrans is showing great leadership in working with cities and counties to embrace creative and more convenient transportation options for everyone,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly.

AGENCY RELEASES CALIFORNIA TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES (CTIP) WORKGROUP VISION AND INTERIM RECOMMENDATIONS

February 5, 2014

The California State Transportation Agency has released the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities (CTIP) workgroup vision and interim recommendations document. Last year’s budget directed the new Transportation Agency to work with stakeholders to develop funding priorities and long-term funding options. The workgroup examined the current status of the state’s transportation system and discussed challenges that lie ahead. The interim recommendations offers both a vision for California’s transportation future and a set of immediate action items toward achieving that vision that are centered on the concepts of preservation, innovation, integration, reform and funding. A copy of the report is located here.

TRANSPORTATION AGENCY RELEASES CALTRANS EXTERNAL REVIEW

January 30, 2014

SACRAMENTO— The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) today released the external review of Caltrans it ordered last year—which has found that over the past decades the department has not kept pace with changes in transportation policy—and called for department reforms to modernize its mission, strengthen management and performance, and match investments and resources to the state’s policy goals.

 “We asked for an honest assessment because we are committed to modernizing Caltrans and improving transportation for all Californians,” said CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly “This report describes significant challenges that built up for decades at Caltrans and we are committed to facing those challenges proactively and taking action to deliver a modern transportation system that Californians deserve.”

State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which wrote the assessment, conducted more than 100 interviews with Caltrans staff, stakeholders, partners and agency representatives. In general, reviewers found a need for significant improvement in the areas of vision and mission, aligning resources and skills to realize that vision, implementing management systems to achieve success, and improving communication with stakeholders.

“Most of the recommendations are not simple check-the-box action items, but calls for hard work of collaborating, rethinking and establishing a new course,” said SSTI reviewers. “Fortunately other DOTs have worked through similar processes, and while their stories cannot simply be copied due to different policy surrounds and other issues, they can provide both information and inspiration as reform efforts proceed in California.”

The SSTI report explains how Caltrans led the nation during construction of the interstate system after World War II, but has not adapted to modern trends in transportation including local control, more efficient land use, and demands for more mobility choices.

“Climate change puts new demands on the state transportation system,” said Kelly. “More transportation choices, efficient land use, highway preservation, sustainable movement of people and freight—these now are the order of the day. Caltrans must modernize its mission and describe its vision to deliver on these demands.”

In response to this report, CalSTA will work with Caltrans, SSTI and stakeholders to draft a new strategic plan that is consistent with state law and policy and that delivers a transportation system capable of meeting safety, sustainability and mobility objectives.

SSTI drew on the experience of multiple transportation industry experts, including the former Secretaries of Transportation from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North Carolina. The SSTI report is available here: SSTI Caltrans Review

The California State Transportation Agency, which was launched July 1, 2013, is responsible for transportation-related departments within the state: Board of Pilot Commissioners, California Highway Patrol, California Transportation Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, High-Speed Rail Authority, New Motor Vehicle Board and Office of Traffic Safety. The Agency was formed as part of Governor Brown’s Government Reorganization Plan, which became law in 2012. In June, the Agency announced $87 million in new federally-funded traffic safety grants administered by the Office of Traffic Safety. Last year, the Agency formed the California Freight Advisory Committee to help determine the state’s plans for freight-related transportation investments in California. The Agency also formed the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup, which will help set priorities for transportation spending and explore long-term funding options to deliver California’s infrastructure needs. For more information, visit www.calsta.ca.gov.

LA Times Op-ED: Taking California's Bullet Train to a Greener Future

January 29, 2014

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed: By Brian P. Kelly and Mary D. Nichols

California's high-speed rail is one of the largest public works projects anywhere in the world. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct before it, high-speed rail has engendered opposition, consternation and litigation. Every bold, transformative vision faces that litany.

This year's state budget includes high-speed rail as an important part of California's landmark effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Although the Air Resources Board included high-speed rail in its 2008 greenhouse gas reduction plan, the project's economic benefits have been discussed in more detail than its environmental ones.

Today, California has 32 million registered vehicles, more cars and trucks that travel more miles — more than 330 billion — than any other state. Without high-speed rail, the existing transportation infrastructure cannot reasonably meet the demands of the projected 12 million new Californians coming to this state. The alternative to high-speed rail is an estimated investment of more than $150 billion to build 4,300 new lanes of highway, more freeways and hundreds of new airport gates and runways, covering large swaths of the state with concrete and asphalt. The effect on the environment — water and air quality, open space, food supply, noise and climate — would be substantial.

Although we should preserve our highway system to meet some of this demand, we also need opportunities for travelers to shift from petroleum-based fuels to biofuels, electric vehicles and public transit. This cannot happen unless we modernize and expand California's rail system — including high-speed rail and regional, urban and commuter rail.

Europe's experience with high-speed rail is illustrative. After high-speed rail launched in Europe, air trips were cut in half from Paris to London. In Spain, the impact was even more dramatic. For the 315-mile trip from Barcelona to Madrid, more than 60% of air travelers have switched to the 21/2-hour rail ride. Closer to home, Angelenos living near the Metro Expo Line tripled their public transit ridership and reduced daily driving 40% after light rail opened.

High-speed rail has the same potential to change the way people travel in California. By 2040, it could reduce car miles traveled in the state by 3.6 billion miles a year, the equivalent of taking 317,000 cars off the road daily. And by 2020, the project is estimated to eliminate between 278,000 and 674,000 net metric tons of greenhouse gases from voluntary emissions reductions, electrification of local rail and other efforts. High-speed rail will be constructed with net-zero emissions and operate 100% from renewable energy This statewide rail system would also give rise to transit and pedestrian-friendly development, which, in turn, preserves Central Valley farmland. The city of Fresno, for example, has approved a land-use plan that directs growth to infill and denser development in the city core, while barring expansion into prime farmland on the city's outskirts. A key element of this downtown development is the future high-speed rail station and its connection to transit.

California is on track to meet its 2020 emission reduction goals under AB 32, and we need investments in rail modernization to help achieve long-term reductions beyond that date. Reducing car travel, promoting infill and transit-oriented development, preserving farmland and open space, and avoiding massive highway and airport expansions are all part of the high-speed rail project and the vision for California transportation.

The project also serves as a catalyst for $50 million in the governor's current budget for improvements and upgrades to local rail transit systems in Los Angeles and San Francisco as part of the overall statewide system to improve mobility.

When it was finished in 1869, the transcontinental railroad cut the journey from the East Coast to California from months to days, uniting the West and creating a new spirit of optimism. Through our commitment to high-speed rail, we can repeat such a transformation and accomplish something that hasn't been done in more than 100 years of transit: Unite California with a sustainable, statewide transportation system.

Brian P. Kelly is California's secretary of transportation; Mary D. Nichols is chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times. All rights and privileges retained. 

GOVERNOR BROWN SIGNS SB 99 ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION BILL

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently signed SB 99 to create the Active Transportation Program which distributes funding for human-powered transportation projects and programs. Having new active transportation options--including new and safer trails and pedestrian routes--helps the entire state achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals while enhancing the public health and safety. This new transportation program is the nation's largest state commitment to bicycling, walking and other active transportation.

The new program replaces the current patchwork of small grant programs with a comprehensive program that improves program planning and flexibility and is more efficient than multiple programs. Another benefit is that funds can be directed to multi-year projects to make greater long-term improvements to active transportation.

Under the new legislation, the California Transportation Commission will develop guidelines and project selection criteria based on the goals of the program by convening a working group of stakeholders to develop guidelines. Forty percent of the funding will go toward metropolitan planning organizations in urban areas. Ten percent of the funds go to small urban and rural regions. The remaining funds will go to the California Transportation Commission for statewide projects.

For more information on SB 99 visit leginfo.ca.gov. Each year, Caltrans also prepares an annual report summarizing programs it has undertaken for the development of non-motorized transportation facilities. For more information on these programs see the 2011-12 Caltrans Report.

adoption of TRIBAL consultation POLICY

Notice to All Interested Parties

The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) adopted its Tribal Consultation Policy effective June 2014 [link].  A hard copy may be obtained from CalSTA via fax or U.S. Mail upon request.

Secretary Kelly has established an open timeline for consideration of further revisions to the CalSTA Tribal Consultation Policy. Interested parties are encouraged to continue ongoing communication with CalSTA regarding the Tribal Consultation Policy and/or other matters of mutual concern. 

Open Comment Period

The CalSTA Tribal Consultation Policy is subject to periodic review to ensure provisions are current.  Ongoing comments addressing the CalSTA Tribal Consultation Policy, as adopted June 2014, may be submitted via electronic or U.S. Mail.  Submissions must include the name, address and telephone number of the person providing the comments.  Send to:

Address:

California State Transportation Agency
915 Capitol Mall, Suite 350 B
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 323-5400
Fax: (916) 323-5440

Email: tribalrelations @ CalSTA.ca.gov

Get prepared during national preparedness month

September is National Preparedness Month, an opportunity for Americans to get better prepared for emergencies in their homes, business, and communities. The California Transportation Agency is urging motorist across California to take simple steps during National Preparedness Month to be better prepared for roadside emergencies. Motorists involved in a roadside emergency should always take extra safety precautions including: pulling to the shoulder to reduce danger, activating hazard lights, and calling for roadside assistance or dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency. If exiting the vehicle during a roadside emergency always stay as far away as possible from oncoming traffic.

Having a roadside emergency supply kit in every vehicle is another simple way for motorists to be more prepared for emergencies or when stranded in a vehicle until help arrives. Motorists can purchase roadside emergency kits at many retailers or create their own kit. The Office of Traffic Safety also has a useful list of supplies that motorists should keep in their vehicles to be more prepared for the next roadside emergency.

For further information on National Preparedness Month, including a list of public events, visit the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

California Launches New State Transportation Agency

The new California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) opened its doors today for the first time, carrying out the Governor's government reorganization plan, which included replacing the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BTH) with a new state agency focused solely on transportation.

"The size and complexity of the state's transportation system, combined with the important policy challenges now facing this state, demand cabinet-level attention and focus," said Secretary Brian Kelly while testifying before the Little Hoover Commission in 2012 about the purpose of the new agency. "The mission of the California State Transportation Agency is to develop and coordinate the policies and programs of the state's transportation entities to achieve the state's mobility, safety and air quality objectives from its transportation system," Kelly added.

As a result of these changes, CalSTA now consists of departments, boards and offices each with a focus on the safety and mobility of California's traveling public. The following transportation-related entities now fall under CalSTA:

The new California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) office is now located at 915 Capitol Mall, Suite 350B, Sacramento, California 95814. For more information visit the Agency's new website at www.calsta.ca.gov or follow on Twitter at @ca_trans_agency.

GOVERNOR BROWN'S REORGANIZATION PLAN

The most comprehensive overhaul of state government in decades became official following legislative approval of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s Reorganization Plan. The Governor’s plan, which will be implemented over the next year, cuts the number of state agencies from 12 to 10 and eliminates or consolidates dozens of departments and entities. 


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