The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) on Thursday released its draft Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, outlining direction for the region to meet federal transportation air quality standards and state greenhouse gas emission targets through $750 billion in transportation investments and a regional development pattern. Notable in this plan update are new strategies for addressing the housing crisis and homelessness, adapting to climate change and investing in underserved communities.
The draft plan, now available for public review and comment through Jan. 12, 2024, acts a compass to align work at the local level to meet the transportation, accessibility and quality-of-life needs of one of the most dynamic population and economic centers in the United States. SCAG projects the six-county region to grow by 2 million people by 2050 to 20.8 million, an 11% increase, while the number of jobs is expected to increase by 1.3 million, or 14.2%.
SCAG updates this long-range planning document every four years to respond to challenges, plan for emerging trends and meet federal and state planning requirements. Following the public review period, a final version of Connect SoCal 2024 is expected to be presented to SCAG’s Regional Council for approval in spring 2024.
“This plan incorporates local input more so than in past cycles,” said Art Brown, SCAG’s Regional Council President and a Buena Park City Councilmember. “This can help us move together as a region toward improving our transportation network and meeting our sustainability goals.”
SCAG developed Connect SoCal 2024 with an extensive planning and visioning process. This process included meetings with 164 jurisdictions in the region to review their growth forecasts, an extensive public outreach process, as well as policy discussions with elected leaders from around the region. The plan identifies a series of outcomes that include increased transit ridership; an emphasis on Priority Development Areas that bring housing, jobs and mobility options closer together; safe and efficient goods movement; as well as streets that prioritize people and safety.
More than 2,000 projects are included in the plan, including those identified and submitted by six county transportation commissions across the region. These projects are funded by a combination of federal, state and local dollars, and Connect SoCal 2024 fulfills the requirement for an updated Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, which allows the projects to advance under federal and state regulations.
Connect SoCal 2024 is the most pro-housing regional transportation plan produced by SCAG to date and includes a standalone Housing Technical Report highlighting the challenges to housing production and best practices for implementation by jurisdictions.
Performance measurement data included in the draft Connect SoCal 2024 shows that, if fully implemented, the plan could result in:
- A 11.4% reduction in overall vehicle-miles traveled among passenger vehicles (from 2019).
- A 30.3% reduction in minutes of daily traffic delay per person (from 2019).
- Achieving the region’s targets for reducing greenhouses gases from autos and light-duty trucks by 19% per capita, from 2005 levels, by 2035.
- 480,000 new jobs supported by transportation investments or improved competitiveness each year.
- An overall return on investment of $2 for every $1 spent.
Of the $750.1 billion in investments identified in the plan, $297 billion is specific to transit projects and operations, $75.4 billion is specific to state highway operations and maintenance, $65.4 billion is specific to goods movement and $38 billion is specific to active transportation. However, the plan cautions that securing adequate funding for transportation has become more challenging, as the current system needs maintenance, and innovation will be necessary to transition to the transportation system of the future.
“As we shift to a zero-emission transportation system, there will be an increased decline of transportation revenue sources dependent on fuel taxes,” said Kome Ajise, SCAG Executive Director. “SCAG will collaborate with federal, state and local partners to leverage existing revenue sources, explore innovative funding and financing mechanisms and advocate for increased investment in the region’s transportation needs.”
Ajise noted that SCAG has invested $34 million of its resources, on top of plan investments, to support efforts to implement its past two long-range plans, approved in 2016 and 2020. “More work is needed to continue supporting our region in moving toward this vision for a more resilient and equitable future,” said Ajise.
For more on Connect SoCal, visit www.connectsocal.org.