Bad news for road projects delivered during Sacramento Regional Transit meeting; Pitching sales tax increase?

SacRT consultant Celia McAdams of AIM Consulting was of the opinion that road project funding was in peril and funding should be redirected to the regional transit authority. | 

During their most recent meeting, the Sacramento Regional Transit (RT) board members received a presentation on evaluating funding opportunities. The Monday, October 23 presentation was given by Celia McAdams of AIM Consulting.

"The purpose of the report is to look at locally controlled funding sources and see if there are any opportunities to jumpstart Sac RT's funding for some key transportation projects like B R T [bus rapid transit]," she said. 

McAdams noted that while there are dozens of state and federal funding sources, she focused on local funding programs. Those sources are primarily administered by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and Sacramento Transportation Authority

A portion of her presentation covered SACOG's metropolitical transportation planner (MTP), which examines long-term needs. The plan focuses on the effects transportation and development have on air quality. 

"You have to have an adopted MTP that is approved by the state or major state transportation funding stops," she noted. "That is the crux of the issue."

State legislation over the last 20 years, including Assembly Bill 32, have addressed greenhouse gases(GHG) and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). That legislation has sought reductions in both. 

"Road and highway projects generally have negative impacts on G H G and V M T," McAdam said. "Alternate projects such as B R T, transit, bike, and ped programs generally have positive impacts to G H G and V M T."

McAdam also noted that without a state-approved MTP, the ability to receive matching state and federal grants will be negatively affected. SACOG's MTP is due in 2025, and McAdman is of the opinion that the 19 percent reduction goals in GHG and VMY will not be met.

Without naming specific road and highway projects, McAdam said that given the air quality goals, funding could be imperiled. 

"The fact is if the region doesn't create an M T P with a project list that meets that 19 percent reduction in G H G, state funding gets shut down for everybody," she said. "Many, and probably most of the road projects that are currently in the M T P, they all rely on matching funds from the state and the feds, and that probably won't happen under the current rules."

She added, "It is incredibly difficult to persuade the state and the feds to fund road projects these days."

McAdam noted this creates an opportunity for SacRT to help meet those goals, including developing a BRT project. She also claimed investing in mass transit projects will stimulate the regional economy. 

Among the locally controlled funds that could be directed toward SacRT are the 2004 countywide Measure A funds. McAdam said road and highway projects funded from Measure A are unlikely to receive state and federal funds so that money could be given to SacRT.

McAdam acknowledged there would be complex negotiations between the stakeholders in the development of the MTP. Among those competing will be local jurisdictions like the city of Elk Grove, SacRt, and the STA. 

"The new G H G and V M T considerations meant that not everything is going to be able to go forward because you won't get the matching funds," McAdam noted.

During public comment, STA's executive director Kevin Bewsey said McAdam failed to mention Senate Bill 125, which will provide SacRt with $160 million in operating funds. He also said the operating fund for SacRT could come from a new STA tax measure under consideration.

"The best source for operating dollars is going to be a new measure, in my mind," Bewsey said. "You can get it built, but you won't be able to operate it until you get a new measure; that's really important."

Although not mentioned by McAdams, one Sacramento regional road project that could be in peril is the Southeast Connector Road. That project, a priority of the STA, has been stymied on several occasions, most recently in 2022 when voters rejected a $8 billion sales tax to fund the connector and other road projects.   

McAdam's report can be viewed here

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

One thing is for sure--the Granite Bay developers are NOT going to pay their fair share of road fees--and they're not ready to hang up their hammers either. So guess who will end up paying in the end?

I recall the developer-led smear campaign to oust former SACOG Director Mike McKeever, who attempted to steer grant money towards higher density infill development and reduce sprawl.

As the Sac Bee Editorial Board stated in August 2023, "The construction interests took an initial package of transportation projects backed by GOVERNMENT LEADERS [emphasis added] and then added new and expanded roads that were not contained in SACOG’s long-term plan. Voters clearly understood the proposal’s sprawl-inducing as it got resoundingly defeated."

So for me, when these so-called "government leaders" speak of priority road projects, I will take it with a grain of salt and hold onto my wallet! If I need to get somewhere in a hurry, there's always Newsom's high-speed rail project from Merced to Bakersfield!

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