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Freeway fees? SANDAG to consider regional plan for San Diego transportation

Scheduled freeway closures near UCSD
Posted at 6:04 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 21:16:41-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SANDAG will hear a new regional plan on Friday, with the aim of creating a fairer, faster, and cleaner transportation system. But how that is funded is still being discussed.

The future Balboa Avenue Transit Center is one of nine new trolley stations being constructed through the UC San Diego Blue Line. Local officials said outside the new station on Thursday that they hope to bring more transit sites like it to neighborhoods near the border and all the way up to North County.

The proposed 2021 regional plan is a blueprint of what the transit system would look like in 2050.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who is also the vice-chair of SANDAG, says the main part of the plan is giving people more options. That includes light rail, expansion of sidewalks and bicycle lanes, as well as managed lanes on our freeways.

Managed lanes would have restrictions or require tolls. Local officials say the costs would be covered by local, state, and federal funding.

One idea brought proposed is a road charge for drivers on the freeway.

"Road charge has been something that's discussed broadly in the United States for some time. As we look at the gas tax dwindling returns, more vehicles shifting from gas-powered to electric power, we need to make sure to find a way for people who are driving Teslas, and other vehicles like that, are paying their fair share," Gloria said.

According to the plan's document online (page 38), a road user charge was described as:

"More people are driving more fuel-efficient and zero-emission vehicles, and as a result, gas tax revenues are declining. To make up for this loss in revenues and to manage congestion, California is exploring the idea of charging people who use roads. As California selects an approach for technology, collection methods, and account management, SANDAG will work with member agencies, California MPOs, and other stakeholders to determine how to best leverage the statewide system for a regional road user charge that will benefit the San Diego region by improving air quality and managing congestion systemwide while generating flexible revenue for local projects."

Gloria added this could be a way to make it fair for everyone, saying the more you drive the more you fund the system.

The SANDAG Board of Directors will hear the proposed regional plan on Friday, and the plan will also be made public. Local officials are encouraging San Diegans to take a look at the plan and give their feedback. The plan can be viewed online here.