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SANDAG’s new director announced last week that he would ask the County Board of Supervisors to abandon the remaining 15 TransNet projects that have yet to break ground. The county dismissed the idea and voted to reject any attempt to re-allocate the funds.
The County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose any attempt by the San Diego Association of Governments to re-allocate remaining funds from TransNet, the sales tax measure for transportation that won’t come close to bringing in enough money for all the projects voters thought they were getting when they extended it in 2004.
SANDAG’s new director, Hasan Ikhrata, said Friday that he’s going to ask the board in the next two months to abandon the remaining 15 TransNet projects that have yet to break ground, 14 of which are freeway projects that are prioritized by officials in North County and East County, and immediately budget $300 million to start planning and environmental review for new transit projects.
He imagines that as a precurser to a new, transit-focused vision of a regional transportation system he’s pushing SANDAG to adopt by 2021.
In February, Ikhrata told his board it was time to accept TransNet’s financial problems and decide what to cut.
But Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar pushed the County Board of Supervisors to oppose any modification to TransNet. Their motion also included a promise to advocate for highway projects to be part of SANDAG’s next regional plan.
“Even with SANDAG’s new vision, 90 percent of people are still going to be in cars,” Desmond said.
Board Chair Dianne Jacob joined Desmond and Gaspar supporting the motion. Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Greg Cox voted against it, arguing TransNet expressly allows SANDAG to make changes. Fletcher argued the realities of climate change demand a renewed focus on transit investment.
“I agree promises have been made and should be kept, but opposing any modification before seeing anything would be premature,” Cox said.
Two-thirds of SANDAG’s board needs to approve any change to TransNet.
But county’s motion was symbolic. Gaspar and Desmond are already on SANDAG’s board. They could have cast their votes against the amendment regardless of what the county decided.