Transportation

COG approves draft list of regional transportation projects

Costs exceed projected revenue by $100 million.

The Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) unanimously approved on Dec. 21 its most recent draft of transportation projects worth $1.6 billion. The projects will be included in the 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan. 

The draft list, which will also be included in the Association of Monterey Bay Governments Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, includes projects from San Juan Bautista, Hollister, the unincorporated area of San Benito County, Local Transportation Authority, COG and Caltrans.

According to the agenda packet, the Regional Transportation Plan is a requirement by the state in order to receive planning funds. It also allows projects included in the list to be eligible for state and federal funding. 

San Juan Bautista submitted projects estimated to cost $6.6 million, including three roundabouts. Hollister’s list is estimated at $215 million, about half of which would go to its local street and roadway maintenance program. The county’s $305 million portion includes widening Union Road, Shore Road, Meridian Street and parts of Fairview Road to four lanes.

LTA and COG’s lists, estimated at $307 million, include transit connections to Watsonville and Salinas, a commuter rail connection to Gilroy, and the construction of a single-lane bus route beside the existing rail.

Caltrans projects are estimated to cost $860 million. They include converting a portion of Highway 101 to six lanes and converting Highways 25 and 156 into four-lane expressways.

Transportation Planner Veronica Lezama said the full list was revised since COG’s November meeting where staff was directed to work on the document with all jurisdictions. 

Because the project costs exceed projected revenues over the next 25 years—estimated to be $1.5 billion—projects were split into two categories. Those that were expected to be funded in the next 25 years were placed on the “constrained” list, while the unfunded projects were placed on the “unconstrained” list. 

Lezama said that of the anticipated revenue, 53% is from local sources such as Measure G, gas taxes and impact fees; 31% from the state; and 16% from the federal government. 

According to the agenda packet, the unconstrained list is included to identify a project in case more funding becomes available. The final list of constrained and unconstrained projects is expected to be presented to the COG Board of Directors in January. 

The only change made in the meeting was moving Hollister’s $7.4 million Pacific Way project to the unconstrained category. The project involves a new two-lane road with bicycle lanes from San Felipe Road to a future Memorial Drive extension.

“The overpass over Highway 25 just seems like a lot of money to be spent so more developments can be built in that area,” Hollister Mayor and COG Director Ignacio Velazquez said. 

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.