EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STEVE HEMINGER’S REPORT TO
OF FEBRUARY 26, 2014
SUMMARY OF EVENTS:
CARB Briefing on SB 375
Sacramento, January 23
I joined my counterparts from the other “Big Four” metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) at a briefing on our progress in implementing SB 375 before the California Air Resources Board (CARB). A key question pending before CARB is whether to adjust the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the second round of sustainable communities strategies (SCS) to be adopted over the next few years. In our testimony, the large MPOs urged CARB to stay the course for the second round and not consider adjusting the targets until the third round of SCS development.
Senate Transportation Committee Hearing
Sacramento, January 24
I also testified before the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee the following day at an informational hearing on “Lessons Learned from the Development and Construction of the Bay Bridge”. Also testifying were several Caltrans employees and consultants as well as the department’s director, Malcolm Dougherty.
West Span Bay Bridge Pathway Brainstorming Session
San Francisco, January 28
Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) co-sponsored a brainstorming session with a group of interested bridge engineers and bike/pedestrian path advocates on whether we could conceptualize a lower cost option for continuing the East Span bike/pedestrian path all the way to San Francisco once it reaches its midway point at Yerba Buena Island in 2015. The latest estimate for the West Span Pathway is approximately $600 million, and that number reflects only a modest level of engineering work to date. There is no identified funding source for a project of such magnitude. We will keep the BATA Oversight Committee closely informed of future developments in this effort.
Independent Caltrans Review Released
Sacramento, January 30
California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly released the external review of Caltrans that he ordered last year from the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) organization. The SSTI report calls for broad reforms in the operation of Caltrans, ranging from its mission statement to its management structure.
CTIP Interim Report Released
Sacramento, February 6
A year ago, the California State Transportation Agency convened a group of stakeholders to take stock of the state’s surface transportation system and recommend needed changes to the funding, preservation, and improvement of that network of roads, transit services, railroads, and ports. The review by the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities (CTIP) work group has culminated in the release of an interim set of recommendations. I think it is fair to characterize this report as a work in progress, with most of the remaining work having to do with identifying adequate funding streams and process reforms to deliver “a bigger bang and more bucks” for our transportation system. In that sense, this California report is similar to the ongoing reauthorization conversation in Washington DC: long on goals, but short on strategies to achieve them. Nonetheless, it represents a good first step by the Brown Administration to start to grapple with the state’s infrastructure funding and program delivery shortcomings.
High Speed Rail Amicus Brie
Sacramento, February 10
MTC joined Caltrain, VTA, and the City and County of San Francisco in filing an amicus curiae brief with the State Court of Appeal urging its expedited review of the Superior Court case that has prevented the California High-Speed Rail Authority from spending state bond funds to commence construction of the first leg of the proposed statewide passenger rail network.
New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
Denver, February 15
I joined Commissioner Mackenzie in speaking at a conference promoting best practices in more sustainable urban growth patterns. My panel focused on the experience of implementing SB 375 in California.
Steinberg Proposes Carbon Tax
Sacramento, February 20
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has proposed imposing a carbon tax on transportation fuels in exchange for removing those fuels from the state’s Cap and Trade program. Transportation fuels are scheduled to come “under the cap” in 2015, which will result in higher fuel prices for consumers of some undetermined amount. That uncertainty – and the possibility that unregulated trading in carbon allowances for transportation fuels could lead to wild price swings – is one factor motivating Senator Steinberg to seek the greater price stability of a straightforward tax on carbon. In announcing his proposal, Senator Steinberg also cited growing income inequality as a motivation for proposing to dedicate 75% of the revenue from the carbon tax to an earned income tax credit for lower income Californians. The remaining 25% would be dedicated to public transit in order to provide better alternatives to higher priced auto travel.
MTC Annual Report Goes Paperless
The agency’s annual report for 2013 is in paperless format for the first time. It includes all the familiar financial figures as well as a series of stunning photographs highlighting the people and projects that made last year such a memorable one. You can view the report at: mtc.ca.gov/library/2013/.
Map of the Month
This map illustrates the total regional sea level projected for the years 2030, 2050, and 2100, relative to year 2000, for the west coast of the United States. The shape of the curve is dominated by the change in vertical land motion at about 40 degrees latitude from uplift in the north to subsidence in the south. The tectonic uplift north of Cape Mendocino helps mitigate the effect of rising sea levels. Unfortunately for the Bay Area, the subsidence of the shoreline in the south aggravates the problem of rising seas.
MTC Operational Statistics
The monthly report on the performance of MTC’s operating
March 10-12 — APTA Legislative Conference, Washington, DC
March 10-11 — IBTTA Finance Summit, Washington, DC
March 21 — Joint Policy Committee, Oakland
March 25 — SSTI Conference, Detroit
March 26-27 — Commission Workshop, Sonoma
Executive Director's Previous Reports