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COLUMN: 2040 Draft Regional Transportation Plan Funding Has Some Real Eye-Openers

COMMENTARY: Developer fees are forecasted to supply $263 million, 54%, of local funding and local funding is the largest source of transportation funds.

This article was contributed by Marty Richman.

The draft 2040 San Benito Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) forecasts out 22-years. Obviously, the further out you go the more uncertainty exists, but since many of these wish-list projects are staggeringly expensive even in today’s dollars, revenues are always iffy and recessions are cyclical, you can safely bet that much of it falls under the heading of wishful thinking, yet plans are necessary.

Even the rose-colored glasses reveal a $550 million (30%) revenue shortfall in the $1.8 billion total of estimated transportation project costs.

The revenue assumptions for local funding include 22-year developer’s fees of $263 million and an assumed 2020 Local Transportation Sales Tax forecasted to bring in $156 million over two decades. Those account, respectively, for 54% and 32% of the $487 million in local revenues.

State revenues, including SB1 returned taxes, are forecasted at $425 million. Remember, the state is siphoning off about 66-cents of every SB1 transportation tax dollar, some of which goes to patch the budget hole left by the Bullet Train, now $77.1 billion. The argument that no SB1 money “goes” to the Bullet Train is technically correct, but also meaningless. The SB1 money “replaces” that gigantic expense allowing it to continue leaking billions a year.

Other projected revenue focuses on Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) betting that they will eventually fund $215 million worth of projects advantageous to SBC, such as the 101 - 25 overpass and rerouting of Highway 152.

Federal transportation revenues are forecasted at $138 million and “regional” revenues $2.5 million, a pittance.

To sum up; the largest revenue sector is local funding and the largest part of that, by far, are developer fees which are assumed to be more than 20% of the total 22-year identified revenue stream of $1.267 billion.

The RTP is a very good list of needs, but how realistic is it for forecasting revenue, costs and schedules? Not very. The long-run history is that revenues regularly fail to meet forecasts and projects run over costs and especially years over schedule; the latter two are related.

As for the 22-year $550 million shortfall already forecasted, that’s close to the monthly cost overrun of the Bullet Train over the last 2 years which should give you some idea of the state’s priorities for our local needs. They have bigger political fish to fry and we’re not even invited to dinner.

 

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About:
Marty Richman (Marty Richman)

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer.Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects. You can follow Marty Richman on twitter @Marty_Richman. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.

Comments

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Study after study has found that people living in compact cities have a smaller carbon footprint than those in sprawling cities or suburban areas. This is partly because they often live in apartments that require less energy to heat and cool than large single-family homes, but also because they commute shorter distances and are more likely to walk or take public transit.

Residents of dense, transit-friendly San Francisco emit an average of just 6.7 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to a 2015 report from the University of California, Los Angeles. By contrast, the average in the broader Bay Area is 14.6 tons, in part because people drive farther to work.

This is true nationwide, too: The Urban Land Institute concluded that policies to promote compact growth — such as building taller apartments around transit centers or adding more housing downtown — could help cut vehicle travel 20 to 40 percent.

Tod,

I have no doubt that the numbers you reference are approximately correct.  My wife and I have often talked about the some of the advantages urbanized areas offer the elderly such as public transportation that makes sense, "neighborhoods", and you can even get your Chinese food delivered!

The sticker is that those good neighborhood get gentrified or become destinations and the costs skyrocket. 

While there are few things better than a good urbanized area - there is also nothing worse than a bad one.

We have lived in "apartments" (military housing), attached homes. and now an unattached home, each has its up and downs, but for efficiency, if that's your thing, urbanized areas are hard to beat.

Marty Richman

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