Lead Agencies for the I-10 Freeway Express Lane Project
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
The State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the California State Highway System, as well as that portion of the Interstate Highway System within the state’s boundaries. The current framework of Caltrans was established by the following acts:
- Assembly Bill 69, enacted in 1972, created Caltrans and established requirements for preparation and administration of State and Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs). Under this law, each Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) is required to prepare and adopt an RTP with coordinated and balanced transportation systems consistent with regional needs and goals.
- In 1997, the Transportation Funding Act (SB 45) mandated major reforms impacting many areas of transportation planning, funding, and development. This sweeping legislation overhauled the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), providing for greater “regional choice,” with 75 percent of the program’s funds to be divided by formula among the regions. Periodically, each RTPA selects projects to be funded from its STIP share and lists them in its Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). Every RTIP adopted by a local agency must be consistent with its respective RTP.
- California Government Code 14522 requires that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) develop RTP Guidelines to facilitate the preparation, consistency, and utilization of RTPs throughout the state.
San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA)
As a result of the passage of the Transportation Development Act (TDA) in 1971, California counties may establish a Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) to administer transit funding. The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA), the transportation authority for San Bernardino County, is not a statutorily created RTPA pursuant to Section 29532.1 of Title 3 of the Government Code; however, pursuant to Section 29532.4(b) of Title 3 of the Government Code, for the purposes of Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 99200) of Part 11 of Division 10 of the Public Utilities Code, “transportation planning agency” means the county transportation commission created in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties by Division 12 (commencing with Section 130000) of the Public Utilities Code, and each transportation commission shall be eligible for transportation funds.
Pursuant to the County Transportation Commissions Act (commencing with Section 130000 of the Public Utilities Code), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) functions as the “multicounty designated transportation planning agency” for the region—the region to include the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura—with various powers and duties relative to transportation planning and funding. SCAG works with each member agency to develop the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
Within the County Transportation Commissions Act (commencing with Section 130800 of the Public Utilities Code), Senate Bill 1305 (known as the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority Consolidation Act of 2017) creates the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA). SBCTA serves as the successor to the powers, duties, revenues, debts, obligations, liabilities, immunities, and exemptions, expressed or implied, of (1) the San Bernardino County Transportation Commission; (2) the local congestion management agency; (3) the County of San Bernardino Local Transportation Authority, which functioned as the service authority for freeway emergencies; and (4) the San Bernardino Associated Governments joint powers authority when it acted on behalf of, or in the capacity of, the preceding entities.
Functionally, SBCTA serves as the:
- County Transportation Commission — Allocates and programs State and Federal funds for regional transportation projects throughout the county.
- Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies — Manages the system of call boxes on major highways throughout the county.
- Congestion Management Agency — Implements the plan for addressing congestion and air quality related to transportation facilities throughout the county.
- County Transportation Authority — Administers the voter approved half-cent transportation sales tax and provides major transportation improvements within the county.
- San Bernardino Council of Governments (SBCOG) — Provides a forum to discuss broader subjects of interest and import to the region.The SBCOG represents the county and 24 incorporated cities and a population of approximately 2,139,570.The SBCOG speaks with a collective voice on important issues that affect member agencies.
In addition, SBCTA administers Measure I, the ½ cent transportation sales tax approved by county voters in 1989 and 2004, and supports freeway construction projects, regional and local road improvements, train and bus transportation, railroad crossings, call boxes, ridesharing, congestion management efforts, and long-term planning studies. SBCTA’s primary funding sources include local transportation sales taxes from Measure I and federal and state transportation funds.
Measure I was reauthorized in 2004, with 80% of voters extending the measure through 2040. SBCTA prioritizes and ensures that revenue from Measure I goes towards the region’s high-priority transportation projects.
SBCTA’s governance structure is defined by Section 130815 of the Public Utilities Code. The SBCTA Board of Directors includes five members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and one mayor or council member from each of the 24 incorporated cities. Each incorporated city may appoint an alternate member to represent it at a meeting, but only if the regular member cannot attend the meeting. The alternate member shall either be a mayor or a city council member. An additional ex-officio member represents Caltrans District 8.
Caltrans Right-of-Way Division and SBCTA
Caltrans Division of Right-of-Way (ROW) and Land Surveys Division, in cooperation with local RTPAs or local Transportation Authority (SBCTA in San Bernardino County), administers California’s statewide program for right of way acquisition and real property management in support of Caltrans’ purpose, mission, vision and goals.
Caltrans’ Right of Way Division’s primary responsibilities are:
- To appraise, and purchase property required for transportation purposes; affect and orderly relocation of affected families, businesses and utility facilities; and clearing of properties prior to construction.Caltrans and SBCTA are not authorized to purchase homes or new right-of-way for a proposed transportation project if the property is not needed to expand right-of-way or require the property for the transportation project or other transportation-related public purpose. Therefore, if a property is contiguous to the I-10 Freeway Express Lane Project and Caltrans and SBCTA do not require the property (i) for the project, (ii) to expand right-of-way, or (iii) for other transportation-related public purpose, neither the Right-of-Way Division nor SBCTA is authorized to purchase the property.
- To comprehensively manage Caltrans’ Real Property Program, reduce the costs of operations, and disposing of property no longer needed for transportation purposes.
The Right-of-Way Division also has responsibility for:
- Monitoring right-of-way activities on federally assisted local facilities.
- Maintaining a stewardship role in the expenditure of federal funds.
- Ensuring local agency compliance when local funds are used for projects on the State Highway System.
Caltrans/SBCTA Acquisition and Condemnation
Caltrans Acquisition and Condemnation Section, in cooperation with local RTPAs/Transportation Authorities, is responsible for acquiring the property rights necessary for constructing and maintaining the State’s transportation system.
A general overview of the acquisition process is provided to affected property owners in the Caltrans booklet, Your Property—Your Transportation Project. For a more detailed explanation of Caltrans’ responsibilities related to acquisition and condemnation, read Chapter 7 of the Caltrans Right-of-Way Manual.
For each state transportation project, Caltrans and the local RTPA/Transportation Authority make every effort to acquire property interests expeditiously in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended.
Offers to purchase properties required for a transportation project are based on approved appraisals which determine the fair market value of each property being sought. Current legislation allows for property owners to receive up to $5,000 in reasonable costs of a separate appraisal should they wish to get a second opinion. It is the goal of Caltrans and the local RTPA/Transportation Authority to settle each transaction in a fair, equitable and expeditious manner, thereby avoiding the condemnation process.
When Caltrans, working cooperatively with the local RPTA/Transportation Authority, and a property owner are unable to agree on the purchase of a property, the condemnation process (explained below under “Questions and Answers Regarding the I-10 Freeway Express Lane Project”) becomes the next step.
The property owner is notified that Caltrans and/or the local RTPA/Transportation Authority intends to seek a Resolution of Necessity (RON), which will authorize the filing of a lawsuit to acquire the property rights through the courts. The CTC generally meets on a monthly basis at different locations throughout the State to consider applications for a RON.
The only issues considered by the CTC in adopting a RON are:
- Does the public interest and necessity require the project?
- Is the project planned to provide the greatest public good with the least private injury?
- Is the property required for the proposed project?
- Has the offer to purchase been made to the owners of record, in compliance with Government Code Section 7267.2?
If a property is not needed for a transportation project, the CTC will not act on requests from property owners to purchase their respective properties.
The amount of compensation is specifically excluded from consideration in the adoption of a RON. If a property owner wishes to contest any of the four issues considered by the CTC in a RON, a request to appear should be sent within 15 days of receipt of the notice to the CTC Executive Director.
If a RON is approved by the CTC, court proceedings can begin to consider the remaining issue of compensation. Negotiations with the property owner can continue “right up to the courthouse steps”. Ultimately, if no agreement is reached the court determines proper “just” compensation.