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The 5 Big Moves plan hopes to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions, while providing social equity. File photo
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SANDAG board discusses $177B transportation plan

REGION — The vision for regional transportation is sweeping and comes with a hefty price tag.

The San Diego Association of Governments unveiled its future transportation plan on Aug. 14 for San Diego County. The massive transit project, known as 5 Big Moves, is projected to cost $177 billion over 30 years. However, the plan will not be revealed until spring 2021 for public viewing and review.

The plan will come to the board in late 2021 for approval.

The vision calls for the county to invest in trains and buses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase ridership to 10% and meet state and federal guidelines.

“Today I’m filled with pride for the staff of this org because I believe they have created a vision that is new, bold and challenging,” said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata during the board meeting. “They embraced new ideas, they challenged the status quo, they listened to people who wanted more than our system can give.”

5 Big Moves was built on data and analytics to create a more viable and reliable transportation system, Ikhrata said.

“It’s more expensive than the last transportation plan, but we are worth it,” Ikhrata said.

Other goals are to reducing traffic congestion and provide social equity, according to SANDAG staff. Additionally, 42% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, which leads to climate change, according to SANDAG staff.

The vision consists of Complete Corridors, Transit Leap, Flexible Fleets and Mobility Hubs managed by the Next OS. The vision also lays out goals for train service to run every five to 10 minutes and buses every 10 minutes to encourage more ridership.

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said he is in favor of a regional, equitable plan, but wants to make sure North County gets its share. However, he has concerns over the lack of improvements to highways in North and East counties, noting SANDAG did not appear to prioritize state Routes 78, 52, 67 and 125.

Still, Desmond said one managed lane, or toll road, is acceptable on SR 78.

“What I’m asking for is the HOV lanes, promised in 2004, put on the 78 exactly as they are (and to connect to both highways) with a managed lane as long as three general-purpose lanes,” Desmond said.

San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones also raised concerns about the highways from the 2004 TransNet tax. But, she pointed to SB 468, which calls for 12 lanes on Interstate 15 and SANDAG’s plan calls for 10.

Also, Jones said she is concerned with charging lanes that are already built and on arterials.

Cori Schumacher, a Carlsbad councilwoman, said it is important to note North County is a region in transition and she’s spoken with residents in favor of the plan.

“There is a really clear direction that I’m hearing from … that makes it clear you can’t use 20th Century ideologies to solve 21st Century problems,” Schumacher said. “Residents would take more transit if more convenient.”

Poway mayor and SANDAG board chair Steve Vaus said he is also concerned with the apparent lack of highway improvements, along with the massive cost.

“Certainly, there are some intriguing aspects of this plan,” Vaus said. “I will need to see more meat on the bones. The fiscal responsibility alarms are going off and that rings true. I need to know a whole lot more before I can give my blessing.”