This article was contributed by Transportation Planner III Ian Lin and Principal Transportation Planner Robert Swierk.
VTA is honored to be selected as a recipient of the Caltrans Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Sustainable Communities Grant Program.
In total, Caltrans awarded $22.2 million in state and federal funds to cities, counties, tribes, and transit agencies throughout California to plan sustainable transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the state highway system, enhance access to safe walkways and bikeways, and increase natural disaster preparedness.
Caltrans awards transportation planning grants each year through a competitive process to encourage local and regional projects to improve the state’s transportation network. A statewide total of 131 grant applications were submitted. Of these applications, 67 were selected for grant awards.
As the County Transportation Agency for Santa Clara County, VTA submitted an application for an Equitable Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Mitigation Program for Santa Clara County.
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is a new way agencies in California evaluate transportation impacts that new land development projects generate. This concept supports the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and multimodal transportation networks by focusing on the total amount and distance of driving that a project generates (Senate Bill 743).
Traditionally, mitigations to such impacts usually occur on-site or in close proximity to where the project is located, such as enhanced bicycle lanes, bicycle parking, discounted transit passes, etc. While VTA’s cities and the County are well on the way to reducing VMT from development projects, finding ways to do so holistically and equitably can be challenging.
The grant-funded program will address the limited VMT mitigation options at the individual development project level, the need to accommodate large projected increases in housing and jobs in a sustainable way, and disinvestment and public health issues long experienced by members of disadvantaged communities.
The project was selected for a total award of approximately $560,000 under the Sustainable Communities Competitive Grant category. The grant money is partially funded by Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
In order to create a dialogue with the larger community and particularly historically underrepresented groups, VTA will seek partnerships with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to help the project team engage the community and inform decision-making in various stages of the project. We anticipate that the community, will play a leadership role in defining the VMT Mitigation Program, and will continue to be involved in next steps toward implementation. We encourage CBOs to consider participating in this project to help VTA better serve the community.
To learn more about VTA’s efforts on VMT and traffic congestion management, visit Congestion Management Technical Resources. To learn more about the new way transportation impacts are measured in California for development projects, visit the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research page on Senate Bill 743. For more information about VTA’s Planning On-Call Services Request for Proposals (RFP) which may be used to procure consultant services and CBO involvement in this grant-funded project, visit the VTA Procurement Portal.