Highway 70 20 years from now

Scott White and Betty Hamden, from Caltrans, present the state’s planning document for Highway 70 for the next 20 years to the transportation commission May 15. Photo by Steve Wathen

Highways, buses and budgets! Those were the items discussed at the transportation commission meeting May 15, with a bit of transportation commission history thrown in for good measure.

Highway 70

Betty Hamden and Scott White, from Caltrans, presented the state’s planning document for Highway 70 to the transportation commission May 15.

The California SR 70 “transportation concept report” recommends future highway improvements developed after consultations with the county and local towns.

Hamden said the report, which looks ahead for the next 20 years, doesn’t foresee significant changes in SR 70. The road will remain two lanes with some minor improvements over time.

White said the Feather River Canyon isn’t wide enough for a passing lane through most of the canyon. However, turnouts have been added or improved to smooth the flow of traffic in the canyon and elsewhere along the highway.

Some of the chain link fencing to catch falling rocks in the canyon is also being improved to make the fences more efficient and to make working around them safer for road crews.

Information on specific segments of SR 70, including fish passages, bike routes and interesting travel information websites can be found in the draft plan.

Caltrans will be accepting public comments until June 2. The draft of the California SR 70 transportation concept report can be found by searching online for “California SR 70 tcr public draft.”

History of the commission

The Plumas County Transportation Commission was formed in 1971 in response to passage of the California Transportation Development Act, which provided funding for alternative public transportation in California.

The Plumas County Transportation Commission consists of three members from the county board of supervisors and three members from the city of Portola. This configuration is mandated by statute

The commission’s activities around public transportation are funded by the act through two funding sources: the Local Transportation Fund, which is derived from a 1/4 cent of the general sales tax collected statewide and the State Transit Assistance fund, which is derived from the statewide sales tax on diesel fuel.

The commission also gets grants from the Federal Transit Administration.

Draft budget

John Mannle, associate engineer and transportation planner, also presented the commission with a draft budget for fiscal year 2017-2018, which starts in July. The budget covers Plumas Transit, Senior Transportation and transportation planning.

The draft budget lists nine activities that the commission and the public works staff will be working on over the next year. These include completing an alternative transportation plan, bus operations, bus infrastructure and new park-n-ride facilities.

Plumas Transit has a projected budget of $769,844 for 2017-2018, of which $114,000 comes from ticket sales. The Plumas Transit fleet is operated under contract with a local nonprofit, Plumas Rural Services.

The Seniors Transportation Program has a projected budget of $332,879 for 2017-2018, of which $39,661 comes from the general fund. Most of the rest of the budget comes, directly or indirectly, from state or federal funds.

Transportation Planning activities have a projected budget of $282,417 for 2017-2018, down $78,805 from 2016-2017.

Overall, the commission’s 2017-2018 budget will be $1,385,140 to pay for transportation in Plumas County.

The commission will vote to adopt the commission’s 2017-2018 budget at its June 19 meeting.

Federal trust funds

Federal trust funds of $20,552 are coming to the commission. Mannle told the commission that this money is traditionally used in planning and/or for constructing small projects.