Newsom government signs bill to accelerate climate-friendly transportation projects

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would speed up approval for bicycle, rapid bus, light rail and pedestrian projects in California was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the bill’s sponsor announced Friday.

Senator Scott Wiener’s (DS.F.) bill allows communities to get climate-friendly sustainable transportation projects by exempting them from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

SB 922 builds on previous legislation by Senator Wiener (SB 288) to relieve such infrastructure projects of environmental and process hurdles that could cause years of delay in green transportation projects. While SB 288 goes into effect on January 1, 2023, SB 922 would extend the law for another seven years.

“Expanding public transportation, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure puts people to work and mitigates the worst impacts of climate change,” Wiener said in a statement introducing the bill earlier this year. “Our federal and state governments are making massive investments in infrastructure and we need to get these projects up and running much faster than in the past. We’ve seen how successful SB 288 has been in starting sustainable transportation projects — we need to keep this momentum going. Streamlining new transportation infrastructure is a climate issue, a jobs issue and an equality issue, which is why SB 922 is so important to the future of our state.”

Wiener says that the projects applying for a CEQA waiver must now meet one of the following requirements:

• Make streets safer for walking and cycling

• Speed ​​up bus service on the street

• Make it possible to run bus services on highways

• Expand carpool options

• Build new or modernize old light rail stations

• Support parking policies that reduce car trips and congestion

• Improve signage for people using public transport, cycling or walking

To ensure that the exemption is not misapplied to adversely impacted projects, these projects must also:

• Established in an existing public right of way

• Cannot add new automatic capacity

• May not demolish affordable housing

• Must use skilled and skilled labor or have a project employment contract

Assembly Member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) co-authored SB 922, as does Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo).

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