A one-half cent sales tax to fund everything from filing potholes to Highway 1 transportation improvements will be on the November ballot.
The “Safety, Pothole Repair, Traffic Relief, Transit Improvement Measure” is proposed to pay for a desperately needed mix of projects across transportation modes and geographic areas of Santa Cruz County, including $10 million for Highway 9.
The final package of projects was approved last week by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) board. The RTC’s action follows extensive public input and review of a poll of likely voters showing that over 2/3 of likely voters support the transportation improvement measure. If approved by voters, the measure would allow us to reduce reliance on the ever dwindling levels of state and federal funding to operate, maintain and improve the local transportation system.
The ballot measure asks voters to approve a one-half cent sales tax for 30 years, with citizen oversight, independent audits, and financial accounting requirements. With the state’s ¼ cent sales tax expiring at the end of the year, the measure would effectively only increase sales taxes by ¼ cent. Later this month the County Board of Supervisors will take action to place the measure on the ballot.
Whether you live along the coast, in the mountains, in valleys or somewhere in between, the transit plans provides benefits to everyone in Santa Cruz County regardless of the transportation they use, their age or abilities. I believe that the measure is equitable, addresses mobility for the masses and invests in projects that reduce pollution.
Summary of Key Benefits:
- Safety for kids near schools: New funding for Safe Routes to Schools projects.
- Local street repair: Improved neighborhoods and increased safety for cyclists and pedestrians by repairing potholes and repaving local streets and roads countywide.
- Maintain transportation services for seniors, veterans and residents with disabilities.
- New bridges for cyclists and pedestrians: Cyclist- and pedestrian-only bridges to be built over Highway 1 at Chanticleer St. and Mar Vista Dr.
- Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail: Continued expansion of the Coastal Rail Trail spine of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail for cyclists and pedestrians along the rail corridor in Watsonville, Santa Cruz and Capitola, and connecting to Monterey County.
- Investigation of future transit options in the rail corridor: Conduct a transparent public process to analyze options to meet future mobility needs; the plan does not include funding for any new commuter or visitor rail service.
- Improvements to Highways 1, 9 and 17:
- Highway 1: Traffic relief for South County and Mid-County commuters, small businesses, transit buses and first responders through the addition of auxiliary lanes.
- Highway 17: Protection for motorists and wildlife by building a wildlife undercrossing at Laurel Curve and funding the Safe-on-17 Freeway Service Patrol.
- Highway 9: Safety improvements in the San Lorenzo Valley.