Beyond Mobility: SCAG’s Road Map for the Future

SCAG’S Draft Regional Transportation Plan Outlines the Southland’s Future Mobility and Further Envisions Housing and Land Use Policies Designed to Promote Sustainable Communities.

By Tim Whyte

Interchange Editor

With apologies to the memories of Oldsmobile, this is not your father’s

 transportation plan: The Southern California Association of Governments has released its Draft 2012 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy for public review, and the new plan goes well beyond plotting new roads and bus service.

It’s the “Sustainable Communities Strategy” part of it that represents the 21st century approach to transportation planning. This RTP not only tackles issues of mobility, but also recognizes that mobility is intertwined with other issues that impact quality of life, including land use, housing and environmental quality. 

All of it is wrapped up in a package designed to promote sustainability — communities that will be livable both in the short term and the long one.

SCAG, the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, represents six counties, 191 cities and more than 18 million residents, including everyone who calls northern Los Angeles County home. 

The organization released the draft RTP in November, and as of Interchange press time the draft is undergoing a series of public review workshops designed to gather citizen input before the plan is finalized later this year.

SCAG is required by law to update the Southern California Regional Transportation Plan every four years. 

“The 2012 draft plan differs from past plans because it includes development of a Sustainable Communities Strategy,” SCAG said in a prepared statement announcing the 230-page plan’s release. “The RTP/SCS incorporates land-use and housing policies to meet the greenhouse gas emissions targets established by the California Air Resource Board (CARB) for 2020 (8 percent reduction) and 2035 (13 percent reduction).”

The draft plan presents housing and transportation options that encourage creation and revitalization of communities that are bike and pedestrian friendly, affordable and sustainable.  

“This will result in people spending less time in their cars and thereby reducing traffic congestion and pollution and benefitting from a healthier environment,” SCAG’s statement said.

SCAG President and Santa Monica City Council Member Pam O’Connor said  the plan is a transformative one.

“California has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation with 2.1 million unemployed,” O’Connor said. “This plan proposes solid investment in transportation projects that aids in stimulating the economy with the creation of between 150,000 to 180,000 jobs annually.  In addition, it capitalizes on Southern California’s position as the nation’s international trade and manufacturing center.” 

So, what does all this mean for the Interstate 5 North Los Angeles County Improvement Project?

Victor Lindenheim, the Coalition’s executive director, said the most important thing for the Coalition to monitor is any possible impacts the plan could have on the timing of funding for the I-5 project. 

“The Gateway Coalition’s challenge will be to ensure that the funds committed to the I-5 project in north L.A. County are available when they are needed,” Lindenheim said. “For the second phase of the project, the new carpool lanes and existing pavement rehabilitation, that means the money needs to be there in 2014, when construction is scheduled to begin.”

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