California unveils plan to promote sustainable transportation in funding decisions to address equity and combat climate change

Published:

SACRAMENTO – California will prioritize funding sustainable transportation projects as part of a new climate action strategy announced today by the California State Transportation Agency.

The draft Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure outlines key investment strategies for investing billions of discretionary transportation dollars annually to aggressively combat and adapt to climate change while supporting public health, safety and equity. The plan builds on executive orders signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019 and 2020 targeted at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in transportation, which account for more than 40 percent of all emissions, to reach the state’s ambitious climate goals.

“We must dramatically reduce pollution throughout all aspects of the transportation sector to halt the climate crisis – and there is no time to lose,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim. “This plan calls for increased investments to support zero-emission transit, freight and rail as well as projects that vastly expand safe access to walking, biking and transit to reduce our dependence on driving and promote healthy communities – particularly in low-income neighborhoods of color that often bear the brunt of pollution and lack access to affordable mobility options.”

State transportation funds – including revenue collected under Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 – must be used solely for transportation purposes. This plan does not change that.  As outlined in SB 1, California will continue the “fix-it-first” approach to maintaining the state’s highways, roads and bridges. Under the draft plan, where feasible and within existing funding program structures, the state will invest discretionary transportation funds in sustainable infrastructure projects that align with its climate, health and social equity goals.

To steer those investments, the draft plan has 10 guiding principles:

  • Building toward an integrated, statewide rail and transit network
  • Investing in networks of safe and accessible bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
  • Including investments in light-, medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle infrastructure
  • Strengthening the commitment to social and racial equity by reducing public health and economic harms and maximizing community benefits
  • Making safety improvements to reduce fatalities and severe injuries of all users toward zero
  • Assessing physical climate risk for transportation infrastructure projects
  • Promoting projects that do not substantially increase passenger vehicle travel
  • Promoting compact infill development while protecting residents and businesses from displacement
  • Developing a zero-emission freight transportation system
  • Protecting natural and working lands.

The California State Transportation Agency developed the draft plan through extensive outreach and engagement with hundreds of stakeholders during the past 18 months. The draft is available for feedback through May 4 by emailing CAPTI@calsta.ca.gov.

The agency will hold a virtual public workshop March 18 (register here) and provide other opportunities for public feedback. It expects to adopt a final version no later than July 15.

For more information on CAPTI, visit https://calsta.ca.gov/subject-areas/climate-action-plan.

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