If it’s about transportation in Monterey County, or rethinking the county’s transportation network, there’s a pretty good chance the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) has a key role in it. The agency oversees a multi-modal transportation network that includes highway, local road, bicycle, pedestrian, and trail projects, with funding from a number of sources, including local, state and federal funds. So that includes everything from freeway tow trucks, call boxes and emergency ride home programs to roundabouts, highway safety, regional trails and safe routes to school projects.
Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) Executive Director Debbie Hale jokes that her office gets calls for everything from bus service (wrong agency – in Monterey County, that would be Monterey Salinas Transit), and tax inquiries (the building once housed the Internal Revenue Service) to people trying to reach county offices, despite the fact that TAMC is actually a state-designated stand-alone agency. So just what does TAMC do?
Lots of things that significantly impact quality of life in the region, including funding and roundabout education for the Holman Highway 68 Roundabout. Completed two years ago, the project relieved traffic congestion at the busy intersection of Holman Highway 68, Highway 1 ramps and 17 Mile Drive near the entrance to Pebble Beach and the Community Hospital. Backed by a multi-agency public-private partnership, the project has improved traffic safety while minimizing delays of emergency vehicles.
“That was an amazing project that had a lot of resistance, but at the end of the day, it was very successful and changed public perception,” said Hale.
Go831 is a free TAMC program that uses the 4 R’s of Transportation Demand Management (Re-mode, Re-time, Reduce, Reroute) to improve travel without widening roads. Designed to support employer-based commuter programs, Go831 provides the resources, technology, and tools to help get cars off the road and out of parking lots during peak traffic hours. MBEP is working closely with TAMC to support and promote the program. “One of the areas that we’ve been coordinating a lot with MBEP is our Go831,” says Hale. “MBEP is very much involved in that and recognizes how important transportation is to our region.”
One of the more “bold and innovative” projects TAMC has recently assisted with, says Hale, is the City of Monterey’s North Fremont Bike and Pedestrian Access and Safety Improvements Project. The $9.4 million project, a collaboration between CalTrans, TAMC, Measure P/S and Measure X funds, and Monterey’s Neighborhood Improvement Program, brought state-of-the-art technology in the form of smart traffic signals that adapt to real-time conditions so as to minimize delays through the corridor and adjacent streets. A Class IV protected bike lane in the median is the first in California, a design that other cities are closely studying as a way to create safer multi-modal transportation systems. And while the project has upgraded the aesthetics of North Fremont Street, it also significantly improved safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.
Hale applauds the City of Monterey for its vision. “We like to support that kind of innovation,” said Hale. “It’s a really great project, and we were so pleased to be able to help fund it.”
Transportation planning includes rethinking everything from when people drive to perceptions of how the roads could actually being used, and those possibilities are exciting, says Hale.
TAMC recently hosted popup demonstrations near traffic-congested schools in Seaside and Marina, and Salinas will be next. The popups – which use impermanent features such as purple paint, plants and traffic cones — are an innovative, temporary way to test out options to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists,
One of TAMC’s biggest roles right now, says Hale, is fulfilling the promises of its Transportation Safety & Investment Plan, the transportation bond measure that created a 3/8 percent sales tax for transportation improvements in Monterey County. “This community trusted us by passing Measure X, so one of the things we’re doing is fulfilling that promise by helping to make improvements in local communities, and making sure we’re delivering on the regional safety project.”