San Diego County commuters will see millions of dollars spent improving rail and transit services in the region with funds generated by the recently approved statewide gas tax.
A $5.7 million project to improve transit service in North Park was approved for the San Diego Association of Governments. SANDAG will use the money to build transit islands and shelters, add bike storage and separate bike lanes over a 2.5-mile section of University Avenue.
SANDAG also received $40 million for Blue Line Rail Corridor Transit Enhancements.
The money will go to create an expanded Rapid bus service, running every 15-minutes between Imperial Beach and the Otay Mesa International Border Crossing. Also included in the project are 11 zero-emission electric buses and improvements to the Rapid 925 corridor.
“This funding will help make San Diego’s public transit system safer, faster and more accessible,” Senate Leader Toni Atkins said in a written news release. “I’m glad to see these badly needed improvements get underway.”
The funds were granted as part of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program 2018. They were generated through the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1) and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF).
SB 1 added tax to regular and diesel fuel and increased vehicle registration fees from $25 to $175.
Gas tax opponent Carl DeMaio said that according to the latest audit by the California Legislative Analyst's Office, just 20 percent of existing gas tax revenue goes into road projects.
DeMaio, a conservative radio host and former San Diego City Councilmember, announced opponents of SB1 have acquired enough signatures to put a repeal initiative on the November ballot.
San Diegans may also see an expansion in Pacific Surfliner and Coaster service thanks to a $40 million given to the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN).
Atkins’ office said the corridor is the second-busiest in the U.S. behind the route from Washington, D.C. to Boston through New York.
Improvements could reduce total commute time by up to 45 minutes, her office said.