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OCTA works through pandemic challenges for O.C.’s transportation future

The Orange County Transportation Authority is continuing to keep its promises to deliver a balanced and sustainable transportation network for Orange County, pushing through ongoing challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

That success is demonstrated by the results of a mid-year report presented recently to OCTA directors on the status of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer Initiatives and Action Plan.

The report shows that between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, 30 of the 32 milestones planned for completion by mid-year have been completed, and another 64 milestones are scheduled for completion during the second half of the calendar year – some of which have been completed early.

“I’m proud of the resiliency OCTA has shown through the challenges of the pandemic to continue delivering on its promises to Orange County taxpayers,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “Measuring that work through these milestones demonstrates the ongoing high-quality work by staff and directors to keep Orange County moving toward a better transportation future.”

The milestones achieved have included advancing projects promised to voters through Measure M, the Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, also know as OC Go. Among them are important freeway improvements on the I-405 and I-5, continuing to build the OC Streetcar, funding street improvements and enhancing the OC Bus system.

Each January, the OCTA board and CEO work together to prioritize goals for the year and develop a measurable action plan to ensure progress toward those goals.

“It’s important that we set and assess these milestones to ensure that we remain on track and accountable for enhancing and improving our county’s transportation system,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “Thanks to the diligent work of our employees and contractors, all under the guidance of our Board of Directors, we continue to keep safety as the priority while making strong progress.”

This year’s highlights so far for each initiative have included:

Financial Stewardship, Sustainability, and Resilience

  • OCTA provided a Capital Programming Update, including information and recommended actions for the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funding for transit projects. The board approved OCTA’s funding recommendations, ensuring the maximization of federal funds for OCTA projects.
  • The board selected a firm to replace the current Enterprise Asset Management system with modern software to meet current and future needs.
  • The board adopted the FY 2020-21 Comprehensive Business Plan, reflecting the effects of the pandemic and ensuring the financial feasibility of OCTA’s programs and services for the next 20 years.
  • The board approved a $1.3 billion balance FY 2021-22 budget for the current and future transportation needs of Orange County.

Reliable, Accessible, and Balanced Transportation Choices

  • The board approved the updated Next 10 Plan, ensuring OCTA fulfills Measure M commitments, maintains fiscal sustainability, and strives to deliver transportation improvement project benefits early. The updated plan includes additional analysis and strategic planning reflecting lower sales tax revenue forecasts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • OCTA launched a diversity, equity, and inclusion webpage to strengthen its commitment to providing equitable public transportation and engaging with diverse and disadvantaged communities.
  • OCTA began construction on the Anaheim Canyon Metrolink Station Improvements.
    The board developed options to restructure the OC Bus fixed-route bus system to better serve customer needs.
  • The first of two Future of Transit Workshop was held to help guide decision making for shaping the future of transit.

Organizational Excellence and Collaboration

  • OCTA expanded its College Pass Program to Cypress College, enabling enrolled students to travel on any OC Bus free of charge.
  • OCTA held additional successful terms of its Early Career Academy and Leadership Development Academy.
    The environmental phase of the I-5 Improvement Project began and OCTA is collaborating with Caltrans to advance it.
  • The project will extend high-occupancy vehicle lanes between Avenida Pico and the border with San Diego County.

The OCTA board will review additional milestones in the fall. For more information, visit www.octa.net.

This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.