SANDAG accelerates funding for Hwy. 52, increases funding for Hwy. 67 planning

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Photo by Ana Nita. A plane stages an emergency landing on the I-8 on Oct. 19 after losing power. No one was hurt.

A proposed budget amendment to the San Diego Association of Governments’ Capital Improvement Program triggered a debate between funding roads and funding transit projects, but the compromise motion approved by the SANDAG board Sept. 27 added funding for the pre-construction phase of widening State Route 67 and accelerated funding for operational improvements on State Route 52.

The compromise motion passed on an 11-7 vote. The City of Chula Vista abstained while the opposition was from the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove, National City, and Solana Beach. The budget amendment adds $593.4 million in projects between Fiscal Year 2019-20 and Fiscal Year 2024-25.

“The SANDAG board came together on a compromise that fits all transportation needs in San Diego County,” said County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who is one of two County of San Diego representatives on the SANDAG board. “Throughout this process I’ve asked for a balanced plan that addresses the transportation needs for all of San Diego County. This plan allocates dollars to much-needed projects.”

The compromise motion retained the budget amendments providing $3.0 million for corridor system management planning and advanced planning for four state highways including State Route 52 and State Route 67, $3.0 million for State Route 94 corridor system management planning and advanced planning, and $14.0 million for pre-construction activities involving the intersection of State Route 94 and State Route 125.

The compromise was proposed by Poway mayor Steve Vaus, who is also the chair of the SANDAG board, and by Escondido mayor Paul McNamara.

Although the compromise eliminated $60 million for the design and construction to convert the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 15 to express lanes, the compromise motion added $39 million for HOV lanes along State Route 78 between I-5 and I-15 and $13 million for the design and environmental phases of the express lanes connector project for Highway 78 and I-5 while increasing the funding for the environmental design phase to widen State Route 67 from two lanes to four from $13 million to $21 million.

The compromise also accelerated funding for the construction of operational improvements on State Route 52, the design of the express lanes connector for Interstate 15 and State Route 78, and the design of the Palomar Street rail grade separation in Chula Vista.

The original budget amendment would have provided $6.0 million for Highway 52 during Fiscal Year 2019-20 and $6.0 million during 2020-21 while the compromise action budgets all $12 million for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

The original revised budget would have provided $6.0 million for the widening of State Route 67 between Mapleview Street in Lakeside and Dye Road in Ramona during Fiscal Year 2019-20, $3.0 million in 2021-22, and $4.0 million during 2022-23.

The revisions add $8.0 million for Fiscal Year 2020-21 which will provide funding to add the design phase to the environmental phase.

The corridor system management planning and advanced planning adds State Route 76 and State Route 78 east of Interstate 15 to the planning which also includes State Route 52 and State Route 67.

The focus on State Route 67 in the corridor system management plan addresses emergency evacuation and is separate from the project to widen Highway 67.

A corridor system management plan is a comprehensive integrated management plan to increase transportation options and improve travel times in that corridor.

The plan includes all travel modes for that corridor including freeways and other highways, parallel and connecting roadways, public transit, and bicycle pathways.

SANDAG has budgeted $3 million for the corridor system management planning and advanced planning project, and all of that will be during Fiscal Year 2019-20. The cost covers $2.85 million for environmental documentation and $150,000 for administration.

The State Route 94 corridor system management planning and advanced planning includes extending the freeway portion further east to Rancho San Diego.

The $3.0 million for the corridor system management planning and advanced planning consists of $1.0 million in 2021-22 and $2.0 million during 2022-23.

The $14.0 million funding for the design and right-of-way phases to connect State Route 125 south to Highway 94 east has budgeted spending of $4.0 million in Fiscal Year 2019-20, $6.0 million during 2020-21 and $4.0 million in 2021-22.