Fresno Council of Governments (Fresno COG)
Fresno COG’s primary functions are transportation planning and programming. As a state-designated Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) and federally-designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Fresno County, Fresno COG must comply with both designation requirements. Fresno COG prepares a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) that looks 25 years into the future, and sets policies for a wide variety of transportation options and projects. It guides how and where people and goods will travel by identifying both existing and needed transportation facilities. Fresno COG prepares the region’s Federal Transportation Improvement Program, a four-year program of financially constrained transportation projects consisting of highway, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects that are selected through an approved project selection process.
Fresno County voters approved Measure C, a ½ cent transportation sales tax, in 1986 and again in 2006. Fresno COG prepared the Measure C Expenditure Plan, a guide to how $1.2 billion in Measure C transportation dollars will be spent through the year 2027. It was prepared with our partners, the cities, the County, Caltrans and the Fresno County Transportation Authority (administrators of the tax) and other community stakeholder groups.
Fresno COG implements several Measure C programs. (For information on the Measure C sales tax visit www.measurec.com). Staff operates the Measure C Carpool Incentive Program, the Commuter and Farmworker Vanpool Subsidy Programs, the Measure C Taxi Scrip Program for seniors, and the Regional Transportation Mitigation Fee Program. Fresno COG planning staff also oversees Measure C studies and develops the Measure C Regional Program's Short- and Long-Term Plans.
The federal Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) gives Fresno COG direct responsibility for determining how two federal program funds are spent within Fresno County. The two programs are the Regional Surface Transportation Program (RSTP) and the Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Program (CMAQ). In addition, the state vested responsibility in Fresno COG for the federal portion of the Transportation Enhancement Program (TE). These federal programs have strict project eligibility criteria. Project nominations are sought by Fresno COG from eligible agencies and then proceed through a selection process resulting in a project listing adopted by the Policy Board. Fresno COG’s approval is required before these state and federal funds can be utilized by the local agencies.
At the state level, the Transportation Development Act created two funds: The Local Transportation Fund (LTF), a portion of state sales tax that returns to local government for funding of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, public transportation or streets and roads, and the State Transit Assistance Fund (STA), derived from a portion of the diesel fuel tax that supports public transportation services. Both funds are apportioned to member agencies on a population basis, though some of the STA funds are apportioned directly to transit operators based on their farebox revenues.
Fresno is one of 8 MPOs that make up the San Joaquin Valley Policy Council.
- San Joaquin Valley Blueprint--The SJV Blueprint Planning Process is a joint vision of land use and transportation of the eight San Joaquin Valley COGs that will be used guide growth in the San Joaquin Valley. In 2010, FresnoCOG was chosen on behalf of all eight to lead the development of the Blueprint and conducted extensive public outreach so residents could participate in planning the future growth of the region. FresnoCOG hosted workshops in all 15 cities, outreach events at fairs and summits, and conducted an online survey. Based on the input received, FresnoCOG developed a vision statement, values, and principles to guide the direction of the Blueprint.
- Golden State Corridor--These design guidelines include infrastructure improvements for a 14 mile stretch of the old Highway 99. The improvement project is funded by Fresno County's Measure C and, over the next 5 years, will renovate the corridor through streetscape enhancements, bicycle and pedestrian trails, modified railroad crossings, and site preparation. The project will result in reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, increased safety, improved bicycle and pedestrian networks, and will boost economic development.
- New Technology Grant Program--This grant program was developed out of Measure C funds and uses $10 million to fund innovative technology transit and transportation projects. One project is a partnership between FCOG and the Central Unified School District to deliver the first 71-passenger electric school bus in the state. A total of 8 school buses will be available for 3 school districts in the region. A second project, the Sustainable Aviation Project, will develop the first network of electric aircraft charging infrastructure at municipal airports in the nation. The project is using grant money to purchase several Pipistrelle Alpha Electro aircraft, install chargers at a few airports across the Fresno County area, and provide some funds to help train pilots in these aircraft. FCOG's envisions the Sustainable Aviation Project as the first step in developing a network of charging infrastructure at airports in California, followed by the Western US and beyond to support electric aircraft operation. The project will boost economic development by making air transport and aviation more affordable and available to the rural communities in California’s San Joaquin Valley. It also opens the door for the region to become a testing and evaluation site for new advanced aerial transport vehicles such as thin-haul aircraft, and provides a new vision for the future to a region that has struggled for decades to achieve the economic success similar to other parts of California.
- Rural Transit--FCOG is coordinating with Fresno County Rural Transit Agency to install/deliver 13 solar electric vehicle charging units throughout rural regions. There will be one for each incorporated rural city in Fresno County. The project will provide every single rural city with the infrastructure needed to begin expanding into using more electric vehicles. Each unit has 2 charging stations, one for the general public and another for transit and City use. The first solar EV charging stations in Fresno County have already been placed in the most severely disadvantaged communities: Selma, Sanger, Reedley, Kerman, San Joaquin, Mendota, and Firebaugh. FCOG is currently installing stations in the remaining communities.
The Policy Board is comprised of 15 members who represent the incorporated cities within Fresno County, and 1 member who represents the Chairman of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. The Board has a “double-weighted” voting system, which provides for an urban/rural balance. Each member has a percentage vote based upon population. To approve any action, a majority of board members must vote in the affirmative (9 out of 16) and the affirmative voting members must represent at least 40% of the county's population.
A highlight of the joint ARB-CTC meeting was the joint presentation by the 8 valley metropolitan planning organizations. Their presentations highlight several programs throughout the region that were bearing fruit in terms of community building and reducing emissions.
Fresno COG's offers a Circuit Planner and Engineer program that offers contract planning and engineer services to its member city and counties.
Need to get to Yosemite Valley without a car? For 20 years, the Merced County Association of Governments staffs and operates the Yosemite Area Regional Transit Service (YARTS).
Fourteen CALCOG members have joined a joint powers authority to operate CalVans, which offers over 800 Vanpools statewide that collective take more than 300,000 vehicle miles traveled off the roads . . . every day.