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Local TransNet sales tax turns 25

TransNet – the regional half-cent sales tax administered by SANDAG for transportation improvements and environmental conservation – turns 25 this year.

Over the past quarter century, TransNet funding made it possible for our region to expedite completion of numerous bus, rail, and highway improvements, as well as pay for bike and pedestrian projects, local street repairs, and open space acquisitions. Many TransNet-funded projects have been honored with awards for excellence and innovation. To learn more about TransNet accomplishments and to take a photo tour, visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com.

“By serving as the local matching fund, TransNet enabled this region to garner hundreds of millions in state and federal dollars to build projects that expand transportation choices,” SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilmember Jack Dale said. “Even during the Great Recession when many projects ground to a halt, we were able to make progress and save taxpayers money by taking advantage of low construction costs.”

San Diego County voters approved the original TransNet program in November 1987. Collection of the sales tax began the following April and continued for 20 years, expiring in 2008. In 2004 – prior to the expiration – the region voted overwhelmingly to extend TransNet for another 40 years. The original TransNet raised more than $3.3 billion, and the extension is expected to generate more than $14 billion through 2048.

TransNet funded significant expansion and upgrades to the regional bus and rail system. Transit projects completed with TransNet money include the COASTER rail line between Oceanside and San Diego; the SPRINTER rail line between Oceanside and Escondido; the SuperLoop bus circulator service in the North University City area; and extensions of the Trolley system to Santee, Old Town, Mission Valley, La Mesa, and San Diego State University. TransNet is currently funding Trolley Renewal, a $660 million effort to modernize the existing Trolley system, and the planning and engineering work related to the future extension of the Trolley to University City.

From Oceanside to San Ysidro, residents also have benefited from TransNet-funded highway improvements, including the completion of the I-15 Express Lanes from Escondido to San Diego; the widening and realignment of SR 76 from Oceanside to I-15 (the segment from South Mission Road to I-15 is under construction and expected to be finished in 2015); public acquisition of South Bay Expressway/SR 125 and the subsequent reduction of tolls by up to 40 percent; extension of SR 52 from I-15 through Santee to SR 67; and the addition of HOV lanes on I-5 (Manchester Avenue) and I-805 (Carroll Canyon Road).

In addition, TransNet funds the region’s Smart Growth Incentive Program, Environmental Mitigation Program(EMP), and Active Transportation Grant Program. To date, the smart growth program has funded 26 capital improvement and planning projects. The EMP has funded the acquisition and preservation of 3,333 acres of open space, in addition to supporting a wide range of scientific research to monitor and support the recovery of declining species, such as the Golden Eagle and California least tern. The active transportation program has provided 55 grants to encourage local jurisdictions to plan and build bike and pedestrian facilities and provide education and awareness programs.

In the coming decades, TransNet will continue to finance major initiatives to preserve and enhance this region’s quality of life, including launching the Rapid bus network and significantly expanding the regional bike network.

Construction is now underway on stations for the Mid-City Rapid bus line along Park and El Cajon boulevards and Rapid bus facilities along I-15, with new services scheduled to begin next year. Another new Rapid line serving the South Bay from Otay Mesa to Downtown San Diego is expected to start construction next year. Meanwhile, under a $200 million bike initiative approved by the SANDAG Board in September, momentum is building to complete 42 projects totaling 77 miles of new bikeways within ten years.

Project Manager(s)

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or pio@sandag.org.