The Road Less Traveled - Achieving Coastal Permitting Approval Through Development of A Public Works Plan

Association of Environmental Professionals 2015 California State Conference
Santa Barbara, CA

Steve Kaufmann presented at AEP's 2015 California State Conference on lessons from the North Coast Corridor Project.

The North Coast Corridor (NCC) is a 27-mile-long transportation corridor in northern San Diego County. This transportation corridor includes both Interstate 5 and the LOSSAN rail corridor, which is the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States. It is the economic lifeline for the region and carries over 700,000 people a day. The existing infrastructure is focused on single occupant vehicles and the interstate is heavily congested throughout the day including weekends. Additionally, approximately 50 percent of the LOSSAN corridor is single track, which creates inefficiency and limits the region’s ability to add new train service.

To balance the corridor’s transportation needs while preserving one of California’s most scenic coastal areas, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) prepared the NCC Public Works Plan and Transportation and Resource Enhancement Program (PWP/TREP). This plan was the result of a unique collaboration between the project sponsors, USEPA, state and federal resource agencies, the California Coastal Commission, local jurisdictions, and the public. The NCC PWP/TREP provides a single integrated document that establishes a framework for the comprehensive planning, reviewing, and permitting of the NCC’s transportation, community, and resource enhancement projects, and is an alternative coastal permitting vehicle to the more than 80 individual coastal development permits spanning multiple jurisdictions that otherwise would be required. The decade-long effort culminated in August 2014 with the California Coastal Commission unanimously adopting the plan for the 30-year, approximately $6 billion package of integrated highway, rail, transit, bicycle/pedestrian, and environmental enhancements.

The panel presented on the benefits and lessons learned during the intensive, collaborative approach, and offered insight into the technical strategies and solutions assessed and implemented to achieve consistency under the Coastal Act.

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