San Diego Authorizes Regional Agreement to Advance Major Transportation Projects, Connect Trolley to Airport


San Diego – Marking another important step toward improving transportation throughout the region and creating critical transit connections to the airport, the City of San Diego today authorized a regional Memorandum of Understanding with key transportation agencies to usher major projects forward.

“It’s critically important that our agencies work together in a meaningful way to make it easier and faster to travel around the region, especially when it comes to finally connecting our trolley system to the airport,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “This formal agreement is another big step forward and demonstrates a commitment by San Diego’s leading transportation agencies to enhance transit connectivity, reduce traffic congestion and improve connections to the airport that meet the needs of the entire region.”

The City worked with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Airport Authority), San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and the San Diego Unified Port District (Port) to develop the formal agreement, which memorializes their commitment to tackle some of San Diego’s long-standing transportation challenges. The agreement sets in motion a process for involved parties to work together to plan and implement transportation projects in areas around San Diego International Airport, the adjacent waterfront and surrounding streets and roadways.

“The Airport Authority is committed to continuing to work with the City of San Diego, Port of San Diego and SANDAG to ensure the airport is seamlessly connected to the region’s transportation and transit infrastructure,” said Airport Authority Chair April Boling. “This unprecedented agreement provides a solid foundation for this collaborative effort.”

Most notably, the MOU authorized today outlines how the parties commit to working collaboratively on regional transportation projects including efforts to share data and planning resources, accommodate right-of-way necessary for project implementation, assisting with permitting and regulatory approvals, and identifying funding contributions for projects once they are developed.

“This agreement is a striking example of cooperation between agencies that significantly impacts transportation for the region,” said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata. “As the regional transportation planning agency, SANDAG is committed to working with our partners to develop a central mobility hub that will provide critical transit to the airport and connect all modes of regional transit.”

In November 2018, Mayor Faulconer convened a multi-agency summit and requested SANDAG spearhead an “Airport Connectivity Subcommittee” to coordinate a number of high-priority projects in progress around the airport including the Airport Authority’s Airport Development Plan, the Port’s Port Master Plan Update and SANDAG’s 2021 Regional Plan. The subcommittee included representatives from the City, SANDAG, Airport Authority, Port, County of San Diego, Metropolitan Transit System, North County Transit District, Caltrans District 11 and the U.S. Department of Defense. The committee concluded its work in the fall of 2019 and resulted in a final Airport Connectivity Analysis, which looked at project concepts including options for a fixed route transit connection to the airport, a central mobility hub and traffic improvements.

“As we plan for the Port of the future through our Port Master Plan Update, this MOU is an important step in our ongoing collaboration with the Airport, SANDAG, and the City to ensure coastal access for all who live, work and play on and around our dynamic San Diego Bay and surrounding waterfront,” said Chair of Port Board of Commissioners Ann Moore.

Consistent with the goals of the Airport Connectivity Subcommittee, last year the Airport Authority announced a new 10-year airline operating and lease agreement with its airlines to pre-approve $515 million for transportation projects surrounding the airport. In September 2019, Mayor Faulconer joined former Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and regional transportation planners to sign an exclusive agreement for the revitalization of Naval Base Point Loma, Old Town Complex.

The City worked closely with the Airport Authority and other agencies to negotiate the MOU authorized today and create a process for regional agencies to develop and implement major regional transportation projects. The MOU acknowledges the Airport Authority’s commitment to obtain Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval for funding of certain regional transportation projects associated with the Airport Development Plan and consistent with plans with local airlines to modernize Terminal 1.

The City of San Diego now joins the Airport Authority, SANDAG and the Port of San Diego, each of which unanimously approved the MOU last month.