The San Diego Association of Governments and the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association have collaborated on a draft tribal transportation strategy.
The draft strategy was discussed during the Oct. 27 meeting of SANDAG’s Borders Committee. The draft allows for comments, and a refined version will be considered for approval by the SCTCA in December and by the SANDAG board in January. Submittal to the California Department of Transportation, which may provide funding assistance, is expected to occur in early 2018.
“This is the first comprehensive inventory of tribal transportation needs in the region,” said SANDAG tribal liaison Jane Clough.
In the past two Regional Transportation Plan cycles tribal projects have been included in the addendum portion of the RTP but utilized individual tribal plans. “Tribal nations traditionally have worked one on one with the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” Clough said. “They weren’t integrated.”
“Most of the focus on regional transportation has been very much in the metropolitan areas,” said SANDAG director of land use and transportation planning Muggs Stoll.
That has also been the case for the revenue-constrained scenarios of the eventual Regional Transportation Plan. “The regional plan focuses transportation investments in the most urbanized areas,” Clough said.
The tribal transportation strategy will essentially be a revenue-unconstrained transportation plan. “Until now there hasn’t been an opportunity to take a more comprehensive look at the mobility needs,” Clough said.
“Maybe there’s some need to address some of the roads,” Stoll said.
The tribal transportation strategy includes roads providing access to reservations as well as within the reservations themselves. “Most of the improvements that are needed are not on the reservation. They’re outside,” Clough said.
The draft tribal transportation strategy development included one-on-one meetings with 16 of the county’s 17 tribes. Goals were identified and a survey addressed their relative importance. Safety was the most important goal followed by roadway condition, economic vitality, regional connectivity, tribal mobility, and bicycle and pedestrian access.
A total of 126 projects were identified along the Interstate 8, State Route 76, State Route 79, and State Route 94 corridors. The 55 projects along State Route 76 consist of 39 capital projects with a combined cost of $907.7 million, 12 active transportation projects with a total capital cost of $210.3 million, and seven transit projects with a capital cost of $800,000 and operational costs of $3.9 million.
The entirety of the tribal transportation strategy has a capital cost of $3.45 billion and operation and maintenance costs of $7.3 million.
The strategy has two parts: a process section and a strategy section. “The process section is intended to provide a functional knowledge,” Clough said. “The strategy is intended to serve as a stand-alone guidebook for those seeking to advance tribal transportation goals.”
The strategies involve support of partnerships and collaboration, coordination of collaborative planning, sharing data in support of tribal transportation with other agencies, and creating funding opportunities.
State Route 76 serves the Pala, Pauma, Rincon, San Pasqual, and La Jolla reservations. The transportation needs survey noted the need for safety improvements between Rice Canyon Road in Fallbrook and Pala Casino.
The California Department of Transportation is planning an improvement project for the 19 miles between Valley Center Road and State Route 79 which involves road straightening, shoulder widening, and lighting improvements.
The tribal mobility needs assessment survey also indicated needs for bicycle lanes and improved shoulders along State Route 76 including sections near Pala Mission Road, Pala Temecula Road, Valley Center Road, Paradise Mountain Road, and Woods Valley Road.
New turn lanes were deemed to be needed at several locations including Magee Road/Pala Raceway Road and Pala Road. Roundabouts or other traffic calming measures are desired at the intersections with Palomar Mountain Road and with Sengme Oaks Road.
Additional ridesharing or shuttle services for casino employees, increased transit service, additional bus stops, and new transit service is also desired especially between Valley Center Road and State Route 79.
The capital projects accessing or within the Pala portion of the State Route 76 corridor include constructing a bridge across the San Luis Rey River, adding turn lanes at Magee Road/Pala Raceway Road, paving various dirt residential roads, paving the Lilac Road extension from State Route 76 to the reservation boundary, and paving various roads.
The safety-related projects for the Pala segment are straightening curves along State Route 76 between Rice Canyon Road and the Pala Indian Reservation, intersection improvements at Highway 76 and Pala Mission Road and at Pala Mission Road and Pala Temecula Road, and safety improvements along Pala Temecula Road.
The Pauma portion improvements include general roadway improvements from Adams Drive to Reservation Road and from Reservation Road to Pala Road, adding a turn lane at State Route 76 and Pala Road, street lights at Reservation Road from Pala Road to Reservation Road, and a traffic signal at Pala Road and Cole Grade Road.
The active transportation projects for the Pala segment of the Highway 76 corridor would add bicycle lanes along three miles of Pala Mission Road/Temecula Road from Arouba to State Route 76 and along three miles of State Route 76 from the west reservation boundary to the east reservation boundary and add a sidewalk along three miles of Pala Mission Road/Temecula Road from the reservation boundary to State Route 76.
The transit desires include ride sharing or shuttles for Pala Casino employees and increased transit service along North County Transit District Route 388 which runs between the Escondido Transit Center and Pala Casino.
“Our unconstrained network does incorporate a lot of these projects,” Stoll said.
The next Regional Transportation Plan is slated for approval in 2018, and the tribal projects can be added to the unconstrained-revenue scenario. “We can take a look at that,” Stoll said.
“It’s a working document,” Clough said. “We’ll discuss these comments and then finalize the draft.”