RTC Awarded $786,800 for Two Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has awarded the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) two Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants for projects that will focus on climate adaptation and transportation equity in Santa Cruz County.

The RTC and the County of Santa Cruz received $448,800 to develop a Climate Adaptation Vulnerability Assessment and Transportation Priorities Report for unincorporated Santa Cruz County maintained roads and the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. The emphasis of the vulnerability assessment will be on identifying vulnerable transportation infrastructure and the associated hazards such as wildfire, mud debris flows, extreme weather/flooding and sea-level rise. The priorities report will identify transportation projects that will be impacted by climate change and those will then be prioritized for actions to enhance resilience.

“The hazards brought on by climate change pose a serious threat to the county’s transportation infrastructure, and in turn, threatens the safety and quality of life of our residents. Santa Cruz County is already experiencing the impacts of sea level rise, coastal erosion, extreme weather events and flooding, wildfires, and extreme temperatures on the county’s transportation infrastructure,” said Guy Preston, RTC executive director. “This report will be very impactful in guiding the RTC as it works to maintain the existing transportation network and plans for the transportation needs of the future.”

“Assessing our transportation network and its vulnerability to climate change is the first step to helping our county prioritize investments toward building adaptive capacity to this critical infrastructure. In doing so we will also be able to better prepare our residents for the impacts of climate change. This grant helps establish a foundation to better prepare our community for these inevitabilities and to guide us as we work together to mitigate these threats,” said David Reid, director of the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience.

The RTC also received $338,000 to develop a Santa Cruz County Transportation Equity Action Plan to address transportation equity and other transportation disparities in the community. This plan will include an equity analysis of the existing transportation network, transportation projects and services, plans, policies, and procedures; a public outreach toolkit to proactively engage disadvantaged communities; the establishment of an Equity Workgroup; extensive collaborative stakeholder and public engagement; and the development of equity performance metrics.

“Approximately 50% of Santa Cruz County’s residents are transportation disadvantaged,” said Preston. “Once developed, this action plan will provide us with the tools and information needed to prioritize transportation investments that will improve access, safety, health, mobility, housing and job access, for marginalized, segmented, and otherwise disadvantaged communities in Santa Cruz County.”

RTC staff is excited to get started on these important planning studies and will provide more information regarding schedule and public participation opportunities over the next few months.

Caltrans’ Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant program funds sustainable transportation planning studies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the state highway system, enhance access to safe walkways and bike paths, and increase natural disaster preparedness. Grants are awarded each year through a competitive process to encourage local and regional efforts.

Funds for the Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant program come from a combination of state and federal sources.

For the complete list of Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant project awardees, click here.