Next Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)
On this page
- A Focus on Sustainability
- Components of the Regional Transportation Plan
- Scenario Planning
- Highway 1 Corridor Projects
- Current Activities
- Previous Activities
As the transportation planning agency for Santa Cruz County, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is responsible for developing, implementing, and regularly updating the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for Santa Cruz County which is incorporated into the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments’ (AMBAG) Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). The RTP serves as our region’s long range transportation plan and provides guidance for decisions about transportation spending priorities.
A Focus on Sustainability
The next Regional Transportation Plan, scheduled for adoption in 2014, will address new requirements from California’s Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375 (2008), which call for regions across California to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions from cars and light trucks. The role of the RTP will be to plan for a transportation system that, when combined with the land use initiative in the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) for the three counties area (Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties), will reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled by reducing trip distances and making it easier for everyone to access services by walking, biking, and/or transit. The GhG reduction target set by California Air Resources Board for the three-county area is to reduce per capita GHG to 2005 levels by 2020 and to reduce per capita GHG by 5% from 2005 levels by 2035.
A new and innovative tool, the Sustainable Transportation Analysis and Ratings System (STARS), is being utilized to develop the Regional Transportation Plan based on sustainable outcomes. This approach provides a framework for evaluating the RTP in terms of access, environment and economy (also referred to as people, planet and prosperity). The transportation plan goals and policies incorporate sustainable outcomes identified by STARS and will guide project selection for the short and long term. For more information about this approach, please see the complete Draft STARS for Plans Manual.
Watch the Transportation Cafe episode that highlights the inclusion of sustainability principals in the next edition of the area’s long range Regional Transportation Plan.
Components of the Regional Transportation Plan
The RTP includes goals, targets and policies (Policy Element) that are used to prioritize projects for funding; identifies the area’s transportation needs and plans (Action Element); and estimates the amount of state, federal, and local funds that may be available (Financial Element). Certain transportation funds require the project/program to be included in the most current RTP.
Policy Element - Draft goals, targets, policies and strategies were developed using the Sustainable Transportation Analysis and Rating System (STARS) and were accepted by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission in May 2012 and updated in June 2013. Read descriptions of the RTP goals, targets, policies and strategies here.
Action Element – The Action Element component of the RTP, and the federal MTP, includes a list of transportation needs in the region for the next 20+ years as defined by the proposed project list. The financially constrained draft project list was approved by the RTC in August 2013. Scenario planning was used as a decision making tool to help identify the projects for the constrained versus unconstrained list (see discussion on Scenario Planning below).
Financial Element – Another step of the RTP development is to estimate the total expected revenue over the next 20+ years in order to better understand how Santa Cruz County will meet their transportation needs. The majority of the federal, state and local funding sources have specific eligibility requirements. One of the methods used in the draft plan to form project/program priorities is to match these regulations with the projects proposed. A preliminary draft financial element for funding projections through 2035 was approved by the RTC in June 2013
In order to determine which projects are on the “constrained” list in the RTP and MTP, RTC staff worked closely with AMBAG staff on a scenario planning process. Scenario planning is a tool that provides a framework for land use and transportation decision making. By assuming various combinations of land development and transportation system improvements under different scenario themes, one can assess how each scenario advances the region’s goals using performance measures.
Transportation projects for the Draft RTP project list were grouped into financially “constrained” packages that would be implemented under each scenario. First, five distinctly different scenarios were analyzed to provide the public and decision makers more information about, “what if funding is invested in…”. Then two hybrid scenarios were developed and analyzed resulting in one preferred scenario. This preferred scenario includes transportation projects and land use assumptions from all three counties. It will be modeled using the Regional Travel Demand Model and also the basis for program level environmental review to determine how well they achieve regional goals and SB375 greenhouse gas emission targets.
The final preferred Sustainable Communities Scenario will be the land use and transportation vision for 2035 and will define the transportation projects that are on the constrained list in the RTP and MTP.
More information on AMBAG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy can be found on their Moving Forward Monterey Bay Project webpage.
Highway 1 Corridor Projects
Although there are over 500 transportation projects in the approved draft project list, there is some confusion about Highway 1 Corridor projects. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Highway 1 are still listed on the draft project list for the 2014 RTP, and can greatly encourage carpool and transit use. However, the cost of completing the entire HOV lanes project on Highway 1 is beyond the amount of discretionary funding that is reasonably expected for our region over the timeframe of the 2014 RTP (22 years). The approach approved by the RTC is to prioritize funding for the initial phases of the HOV lanes. Before the HOV lanes can be built, the following series of projects are required to be completed to provide the width necessary for additional lanes and to ensure motorist safety:
- Auxiliary lanes for most of the distance between Morrissey Rd. and Larkin Valley Rd.
- Reconstructing most of the interchanges
- Replacing the railroad bridges in Aptos
The auxiliary lanes between Morrissey and Soquel are almost complete and 3 more auxiliary lane projects are on the priority list for completion over the lifespan of the long range plan (22 years), again based on foreseeable funding. These projects are expected to substantially smooth traffic flow and improve safety on the corridor. Prioritizing additional funding for Highway 1 Corridor projects in this timeframe (to get even closer to having HOV lanes) would take funding away from many other local transportation projects of which the most significant is the much needed maintenance of our local roadways. If other revenue becomes available, it is possible that more of the Highway 1 Corridor projects on this list could be implemented to move closer to adding the final HOV lanes to Highway 1.
- SEPTEMBER 2013 – AMBAG Board to adopt the preferred scenario to undergo program-level environmental analysis.
- OCTOBER 2013 – RTC board to review STARS quantitative analysis of transportation project lists
- OCTOBER 2013-FEBRUARY 2014 – Program level environmental analysis of transportation project lists.
- AUGUST 2013 – RTC Board approved the final draft transportation project list that identifies the financially constrained projects for the 2014 RTP and MTP.
- AUGUST 2013 – Results of a 3-county survey about transportation preferences presented to the RTC board.
- JULY 2013 – AMBAG hosted two workshops in Santa Cruz County to receive input on the hybrid scenarios.
- JUNE 2013 – RTC and AMBAG staff presented the initial scenarios and draft revenue projections to the RTC board.
- MAY 2013 –Public Workshops hosted by AMBAG on the tri-county land use/transportation scenarios.
- MAY 2013 – RTC board received a presentation by RTC staff on scenario planning for the 2014 RTP and MTP
- MAR 2013 – RTC approved the draft project list that identifies the transportation needs for Santa Cruz County through 2035
- OCT 2012 – Over 270 people completed a survey on travel patterns and barriers. (Survey 3 results)
- SEP 2012 – Input solicited on new project ideas for the 2014 RTP project list.
- MAY 2012 – The revised draft goals, targets, and policies were accepted by the RTC incorporating extensive input by the public, RTC advisory committees, and RTC commissioners. (staff report (see item #5), comments/responses)
- MAY 2012 – Over 400 people completed a second Regional Transportation Plan Goals, Targets, and Policy Survey. (Survey 2 results)
- APR 2012 – Public workshop held on the Goals, Targets and Policies for a Sustainable Transportation Plan. (presentation slides).
- FEB 2012 – Over 195 people completed the initial Transportation Plan Sustainability Survey about the sustainability objectives (Survey 1 results)
- JAN 2012 – Goal & Policy sustainability framework accepted
- NOV 2011 – Held two Sustainability Workshops focused on balancing the environment, economics and access. (public comments)
- AMBAG Moving Forward Monterey Bay
- RTP Final Draft Project List (approved August 2013)
- RTP Draft Goals, Policies, and Targets (updated June 2013)
- RTP Fact Sheet (updated May 2013)
- Transportation Cafe episode on STARS and the RTP (January 2012)
- RTP Timeline
- 2010 RTP
- Plan Regional de Transporte Hoja Informativa (Octubre 2011)