California nears extension of rule intended to aid transportation projects

August 10, 2022

Keith Goble

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The California Assembly has approved extending a transportation rule that is intended to help get people off the state’s roadways.

In 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill to speed up transportation projects considered to be “sustainable.” Specifically, the rule exempts transit projects from stricter review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The exemptions are touted to shave project timelines by six months to four years.

Affected projects include adding bus rapid transit lines, the installation of zero emission bus charging infrastructure, and walking and biking infrastructure.

Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said at the time that greenhouse gas emissions go down when more people use alternatives to cars.

Previously SB288, the rule has a Dec. 31, 2022, sunset date.

Although SB288 is not intended to aid getting road work done, it can help alleviate some road congestion.

On the verge of extension

With the expiration date looming, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill to extend the sunset date for seven years.

The bill, SB922, passed the Senate in May and advanced to the assembly.

Wiener says his bill would also improve on the two-year-old law.

“We can make it easier and faster to build sustainable transportation projects that help get people out of their cars,” Wiener said in a news release. “Increasing walking, biking and public transit option is a great way to reduce carbon emissions and improve the livability of our communities.”

During the first 18 months that SB288 has been in place, he says 15 projects have been streamlined in various parts of the state. Another 20 projects are currently under consideration for the same treatment.

Wiener adds that SB922 would allow the state to continue to cut down on approval time and costs for sustainable transportation projects.

The bill would also modify the types of projects eligible for streamlining.

Critics have said SB288 allows a long list of transportation projects that are likely to bring significant environmental impacts to be greenlighted without thorough review. As a result, the projects are allowed to circumvent the CEQA’s important public participation and environmental health requirements.

SB922 has moved back to the Senate for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from California is available.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.