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County of Tehama – Efficient Transportation Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Community:Tehama County

Population: 62,836


Lacking the resources of many larger counties in California, Tehama County focuses its efforts to improve transportation efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases on collaboration with other local government agencies, and leveraging the resources it has to provide multiple benefits, including those not related directly to these goals.

Program Highlights

  • Working with a multi-agency partnership to improve highway congestion management.
  • Participating in 9-county pilot program with Google Transit for online transit information.
  • Sharing resources between county agencies.
  • Collaborative development of GIS data in support of planning and grant applications.

Lessons Learned

  • Interagency collaboration reduces costs and increases return on investments.
  • Leveraging resources improves competitiveness for grant funding.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Though geographically large, the bulk of Tehama County’s population lives in the narrow northern stretch of the Sacramento Valley, with nearly two-thirds of that population in unincorporated areas. The Sacramento River splits this stretch down the middle, paralleled by the county’s two main north-south transportation arteries. Only two bridges cross the river to link the two highways, other than where they meet at the northern tip of the valley.

What if I-5 Is Closed?

Interstate-5 is the main backbone for both local and regional traffic, as well as being the primary transportation corridor along the West Coast. Incidents affecting traffic on I-5, whether an accident in Sacramento, or heavy snow in the Cascade Mountains to the north, can have dramatic effects on traffic and mobility in Tehama County. Periodic closures of I-5, for example, can flood the county with idling trucks, creating a major increase in air pollution, greenhouse gases, and use of fossil fuels. Such an event also creates obstacles to local traffic, both on and off the highway, further increasing congestion and magnifying the impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

The county is working with Caltrans to share information about traffic conditions through message signs. It is also developing its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) capability to improve contingency planning as well as its ability to share information with the community. Improving congestion management on the highway is a central part of the county’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, especially in light of expected increases in traffic along I-5.

As a member of the multi-agency Fix 5 Partnership (with Caltrans, Shasta County, and several cities in both counties), Tehama County is working to collaboratively manage increasing congestion along the highway. One major goal of the partnership is to identify funding strategies for expansion of I-5 to handle projected increases in traffic.

GIS Supports ITS

Tehama County is laying a foundation for developing its Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) capabilities through investments in GIS. Developing GIS data is supporting the county’s regional Blueprint efforts by improving its modeling capability, along with other county activities. In developing a broad GIS capability, the county works to take advantage of leveraging opportunities. GIS software can be used collaboratively to support several departments, such as to fulfill the county’s needs for demographic mapping, as well as transportation planning. Building infrastructure through such interagency collaboration improves the county’s competitiveness for future grants.

Google Transit Pilot

The county is participating in a multi-county pilot program, led by Shasta County, to provide public transit information over the internet through Google Transit. Google Transit is a mapping program that integrates transit routing and scheduling information with the popular Google Maps Web service. The Google Transit pilot program allows residents to see transit information presented as an alternative to driving. One purpose of the pilot program is to assess how well the program works for rural areas.

Other Efficient Transportation Activities

Tehama County works with its cities and schools, as well as appropriate non-profits, on Safe Routes to School programs, including partnering on grant applications. The county has programmed funding, and is developing plans, for a multi-use facility to support its public transit system, dial-a-ride program, and volunteer drivers program. Keeping with the county’s strategy of leveraging investments, the facility will also house the county’s emergency interoperability communications center. The county is also replacing older vehicles, including dial-a-ride vans, with more efficient “clean-fuel” vehicles.

Compiled July 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

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