Executive Director, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)
Gary Gallegos is the Executive Director of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). He is a nationally recognized expert in transportation, land use, regional public policy making, and bi-national planning and diplomacy.
SANDAG is the leading research, planning, and transportation agency for the San Diego region. The agency builds consensus; makes strategic plans; obtains and allocates resources; plans, engineers, and builds public transportation, and provides information on a broad range of topics pertinent to the region's quality of life. Agency policymakers are elected officials from each of the area’s 18 cities and the county.
Mr. Gallegos leads a staff of about 350 professionals who develop public policy initiatives for elected officials on numerous issues encompassing population growth, transportation, environmental management, economic development, municipal finance, binational coordination, and public safety.
Mr. Gallegos’ recent accomplishments at SANDAG include overseeing the completion of the Interstate 15 Express Lanes, a $1.3 billion expressway within a freeway, and spearheading the acquisition of the State Route 125 toll road, commonly known as the South Bay Expressway, for $341.5 million.
In January of 2003, Mr. Gallegos ushered SANDAG into a new, expanded role. State Senate Bill 1703 consolidated the responsibilities of SANDAG with many of the functions of the Metropolitan Transit Development Board and the North County Transit Development Board, allowing SANDAG to assume regional transit planning, funding allocation, project development, and eventually construction.
In 2004, Mr. Gallegos led the charge to extend TransNet, a regional half-cent sales tax for transportation; 67 percent of county voters approved the extension. Administered by SANDAG, the original 20-year TransNet program generated $3.3 billion to fund highway, transit, and local road projects. The 40-year TransNet extension will raise another $14 billion for similar improvements. Gallegos also led the effort to create the TransNet Early Action Program, which focuses on jump-starting construction of the top priority transportation projects and programs identified in the Regional Transportation Plan.
Most recently, Mr. Gallegos has worked with partner agencies toward securing the federal and state approvals necessary to create a third international border crossing in San Diego County – Otay Mesa East – and a short connecting highway. SANDAG will administer a toll that will generate funds to pay for the facility.
In addition, Mr. Gallegos is the Chief Executive Officer of the SANDAG Service Bureau, the nonprofit public benefit corporation chartered by SANDAG.
Prior to joining SANDAG in 2001, Mr. Gallegos held the position of District Director for Caltrans District 11, covering San Diego and Imperial Counties. Mr. Gallegos holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of New Mexico. He is a registered civil engineer.