CENTRAL COAST REGION, Calif. – Congressman Carbajal's Office announced two key investments in the Central Coast region this week with funds from last year's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
On Wednesday, $8 million was announced for a wildlife collision reduction project on Highway 101 through the Gaviota Pass.
The project was funded through the Wildlife Crossings Program that Congressman Carbajal personally helped to develop and pass within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“I championed creating the Wildlife Crossing program when we were writing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I’m proud to see our region as one of the first recipients of its funding to protect Central Coast travelers and our region’s wildlife,” said Congressman Carbajal. “As the only grant announced for California, I look forward to seeing this Gaviota project be the model for future uses of these funds to reduce traffic collisions and save the lives of both drivers and the threatened wildlife that call the Central Coast home.”
Those funds will go to expanding an existing culvert (pictured below) beneath Highway 101 that allows wildlife, such as deer and mountain lions, to transit in and out of the nearby Los Padres National Forest.
Doug Kern, Executive Director of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy stated, “This funding, championed by Congressman Salud Carbajal through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, marks a significant milestone in safeguarding our coast's ecosystem. Years of dedicated efforts by GCC and Coastal Ranches Conservancy have culminated in this pivotal achievement. We express profound gratitude to Congressman Carbajal for his steadfast commitment to conservation and applaud his instrumental role in preserving our natural heritage."
Additionally, miles of new fencing will go up on both sides of Highway 101 to prevent wildlife from entering the roadway and endangering themselves and drivers.
"Commuters who drive from Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley on Highway 101 are all aware of the large amount of wildlife killed crossing the highway in the Gaviota Pass, and all the way along the 101 from the Nojoqui Summit to Refugio," explained Doug Campbell, Executive Director of Coastal Ranches Conservancy. "Every year, deer, black bear and mountain lions are killed crossing the highway here. We estimate that 2-300 individual mammals of all sizes are killed here every year and that Highway 101 is likely one of the major factors for declining wildlife populations along the Gaviota Coast."
On Friday, a $1 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was announced to improve passenger rail options between the Central Coast and points south.
The federal investment will improve the Pacific Surfliner corridor from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and fund exploring an expansion of service options for the San Luis Obispo to San Jose route.
"Expanding passenger rail options for traveling the Central Coast will not only give our communities better ways to travel our region, but it will continue to bring new visitors to our local economies without additional traffic and with a lower carbon footprint. That’s a win-win for us all,” explained Congressman Carbajal. "The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, and I’m proud to see another large investment from our landmark law that I helped write coming to the Central Coast to continue the revitalization of our region."
More than $400 billion in federal funds have been distributed for 40,000 separate projects nationwide since the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including $22.5 billion for over 1,000 projects in California.
A map of some of those investments can be found here.
Congressman Carbajal's position as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee afforded him and his staff a notable role in the creation and passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.