RTC to consider transportation projects

© 2017-Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission on Thursday will consider what projects should be covered by Measure D funds over the next five years.

A public hearing is set at 9:30 a.m. in the Watsonville City Council Chambers, 275 Main St., fourth floor.

Measure D, the transportation improvement ballot measure, was passed by more than two-thirds of Santa Cruz County voters in November. Each year, recipient agencies are required to prepare a plan looking out five years into the future to identify what they will deliver to the public.

In March, the Watsonville City Council approved its five-year plan for Measure D projects within city limits.

The RTC is the lead agency for the regional projects in Measure D including the highway corridor, the Coastal Rail Trail, and the rail corridor, in addition to the San Lorenzo Valley Highway 9 Corridor Improvement projects and the Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing. Also, because Measure D recipient Community Bridges Lift Line does not have a public board, the ordinance specifies that the RTC take action on Community Bridges’ Lift Line five-year plan at the public hearing to provide an opportunity for public input.

The draft five-year plans for these projects are currently available for review on the RTC’s Measure D website at www.sccrtc.org/move.

Regional projects include:

• Highway 1: Begin construction of three projects as early as Spring 2021 — a pair of auxiliary lanes between 41st to Soquel, a bicycle/pedestrian bridge at Chanticleer, and a bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing at Mar Vista in Aptos — following completion of environmental documents, final design, right of way and utility work.

• Coastal Rail Trail: Provide supplemental funding to complete construction of bicycle/pedestrian trail sections in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and the San Lorenzo River bridge. For the north coast trail, begin construction following completion of an environmental analysis of possible alignments and final design.

• Rail Corridor: Completion of the analysis of transportation options for the rail corridor (and two parallel routes), and conduct maintenance.

• San Lorenzo Valley/Highway 9: Begin work on a pathway, transit stop and other improvements in Felton between Fall Creek Road and the elementary/middle/high school complex, and move forward with projects identified through the Highway 9 corridor plan. 

• Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing: Construct the undercrossing (in coordination with other project funding sources and partners).

The deadline for written comments on the RTC’s Measure D regional project five-year plans is noon on Wednesday. Oral comments may also be provided to the RTC board at the public hearing. 

Next year, the five-year plan approval process will also include review of an annual report describing actual expenditures, progress made to improve the transportation system, how maintenance of effort requirements have been met to ensure Measure D revenues are adding to (not substituting) other revenues and the degree to which Measure D funds were used to secure additional funding from other new or existing sources. The annual report of expenditures will be reviewed via an annual fiscal audit, as well as a taxpayer oversight committee, to ensure funds were expended consistent with the requirements of Measure D. 

Measure D is a 30-year half-cent local sales tax which began collection in April. Funds are expected to be available for projects in August.

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