Oceanside gets preview of SANDAG transportation plan

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside got a preview of the SANDAG regional transportation plan on Wednesday that will be discussed at a series of workshops in the weeks ahead.

The upcoming SANDAG workshop planned for Oceanside falls on the date of a city council meeting, so the preview workshop allowed council members and residents to share their comments in a salty discussion.

Updates to the SANDAG transportation plan aim to bring mobility, economic vibrancy, and quality of life to the San Diego region. Proposed improvements look ahead to 2050 and a population of 4.1 million.

Oceanside City Council focused on proposed changes for North County.

Council members said system wide rail double tracking will be a step in the right direction and help speed train travel through Oceanside’s stretch of the rail, which is already double tracked.

Residents spoke up about the “slow as snails” pace of the regional double tracking project, and limited hours of the Coaster and Sprinter, which preclude North County residents from using rail transportation more often.

There were split views on the addition of managed lanes to Interstate 5 and Interstate 15.

Council members who spoke said they saw it as a plus, but residents at the workshop said they want less traffic.

There was also discussion on proposed Caltrans improvements to the I-5 and state Route 78 interchange.  Mayor Jim Wood and Councilman Jerry Kern said improvements are needed, and they hope neighborhood concerns are taken into account when the interchange is constructed.

When SANDAG shared plans for regional bike lanes, Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said she would like to see additional bike lane improvements in Oceanside, as well as more awards of smart growth incentives, like the one that helped fund Mission Avenue improvements.

“We haven’t gotten what’s our fair share,” Sanchez said. “We’re the largest city in North County.”

Jimmy Knott, an Oceanside resident and senior advocate, shared a unique suggestion for local transportation improvements. He asked for lanes for motorized scooters (or wheelchairs).

Councilman Jack Feller said even the investment in bike lanes has minimal benefits, since many bike lanes are only used for weekend recreation.

“We don’t have to provide every possible need to every person,” Feller said.

SANDAG projected more mixed-use housing in the region, along with an outlook for 50 percent multi-family housing by 2050.

Caroline Gregor, SANDAG senior regional planner, said mixed-use housing, fewer rush hour solo drivers, and increased access to alternative modes of transportation have already reduced vehicle miles and emissions. San Diego County is currently 5 percent ahead of the Air Resource Board target rate for emissions reductions.

Residents countered that plans to expand freeways would be taking a step backwards and adding to greenhouse gas.

Gregor also said regional investments in transportation have paid off with an annual increase of 53,000 jobs and $13.4 million in gross revenues.

Available funds to implement further transportation improvements will remain low through 2020. Then pick up in 2021 to 2035 and allow a third of planned transportation improvements to be completed. The majority of planned improvements will be made between 2036 and 2050 when revenues peak.

SANDAG will hold countywide workshops in May and June, before the SANDAG board adopts the final regional transportation plan in fall.

The transportation plan will be shared May 20 at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center community room adjacent to the library.

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