At the October 8 California Transportation Commission (CTC) meeting in Modesto, Caltrans said that the agency wants to delay funding for widening Highway 99 in Madera and Tulare Counties and an upgrade for highway 46 in San Luis Obispo County.
Caltrans proposed to cut $61.3 million to be held in reserve for priority rail projects. Governor Gavin Newsom sent out an executive order last month telling Caltrans “to reduce congestion through innovative strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation.”
As a result, Caltrans wants to stop two highway projects in the Central Valley and one in San Luis Obispo County. The portion of Highway 99 that passes through Fresno stands to lose $17 million to widen lanes through Madera and Tulare Counties. $15.5 million will also not be provided to SLO County.
The Commission is responsible for programming and allocating funds for the construction of highway, passenger rail, transit and active transportation improvements throughout California and assists the Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency and the Legislature in formulating and evaluating state policies and plans for California’s transportation programs.
Assemblymember Devon Mathis attended the meeting and requested that the CTC fully fund SR-99 project components recommended for deletion. Caltrans released the draft recommendations on October 1st with no notice to the San Joaquin Valley that there would be recommendation to delete the SR- 99 project components.
The following is Mathis’ statement to the CTC:
“These recommendations did not include any explanation of how and when the funding would be replaced. As all of you know, SR-99 is vital to the state of California and the nation for goods movement. It is unacceptable to delay improvements to the SR- 99 corridor.
“Also, Caltrans district 6 worked to develop cost savings on another ITIP project in Tulare County. The reward for the local Caltrans district developing cost savings is recommendation by Caltrans headquarters to delete another project. All of the proposed deletions have a district impact to San Joaquin Valley.
“Again, I request the funding for SR-99 recommended for deletion is fully restored with the final ITIP adoption. In addition, I request the CTC and Caltrans develop a plan to fully fund SR-99 corridor goods movement and safety projects in the next 10 years. The state needs to stop leaving the Central Valley out of their plans when we are the backbone of this state and nation.”
The CTC did not reach a decision at the October 8 meeting. A second hearing will be held this week in Irvine where Caltrans will bring the finalized version to the commission.