Highway 101 from the Betabel exit. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Highway 101 from the Betabel exit. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Information provided by Caltrans

Caltrans announced that the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), which includes San Benito County, was awarded $300,000 to develop the California Central Coast Sustainable Freight Study. Other members of the association are Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties.

“The Central Coast’s economy is driven by freight-dependent industries, notably agriculture, manufacturing, and food processing. These industries provide 33 percent of regional employment and more than $13 billion of the $52 billion annual gross regional product,” According to the project description.

It adds that the study aims to establish a framework for maintaining the economic health of freight-dependent industries while also improving livability and the environment.

“The study will advance sustainable freight improvements and position projects to be in alignment with state planning priorities,” the project description states. “Study elements will include identification of significant freight system trends, needs, and issues, with particular focus on Zero Emissions Vehicle infrastructure needs, sustainable freight strategies, and innovative approaches to freight management and freight technologies.”

The allotment is part of Caltrans’ $34.7 million in state and federal funds to cities, counties, tribes and transit agencies throughout California – including $25 million funded by Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 – to plan sustainable transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the state highway system, enhance access to safe walkways and bike paths, and increase natural disaster preparedness, according to the release.

“These grants are funding the planning for sustainable and more resilient transportation projects that will prepare the state for rising sea levels, wildfires and other climate related impacts,” said Caltrans Interim Director Steven Keck. “By collaborating with local communities, we are working together to achieve both our climate goals and an equitable transportation infrastructure for people who rely on transit and intercity bus service.”

In total, Caltrans will allocate:

  • $18.4 million in Sustainable Communities Competitive and Technical Grants to 57 local, regional, tribal and transit agencies for climate change adaptation,  transportation and land use planning, and natural disaster preparedness. This includes more than $4.5 million to fund planning for 14 projects that improve safety and access for people who walk and bike.
  • $3.8 million in federally funded Strategic Partnership Grants to 10 projects that will plan for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, sustainable goods movement, wildlife connectivity, intercity bus systems and other sustainability initiatives.
  • $12.5 million – all from SB 1 – in Sustainable Communities Formula Grants to metropolitan planning organizations to further regional transportation plans and sustainable community strategies. This grant will be awarded later this spring.

Caltrans said it awards transportation planning grants each year through a competitive process to encourage local and regional projects. Applications are evaluated on how they further state transportation goals by identifying and addressing statewide, interregional, or regional transportation deficiencies on the highway system.

SB 1 provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually split between the state and local agencies. Road projects progress through construction phases more quickly based on the availability of SB 1 funds, including projects that are partially funded by SB 1.

For more information about transportation projects funded by SB 1, visit RebuildingCA.ca.gov.

For a complete list of planning grant project awardees, visit here [PDF].