By: Darren Suen – Special to the Elk Grove Laguna Forums.
Elk Grove’s future is bright. As part of a broader strategy to balance our community and bring more jobs here, we must not only continue to maintain our road infrastructure but also develop a robust, multi-modal transportation system to improve our regional connectedness and reduce traffic congestion. This November we have a chance to implement that strategy by voting Yes on Measure B.
The gas tax rate, a funding source for local road maintenance, has not adjusted since 1993. Every city in Sacramento County, including the unincorporated portions of the county is experiencing a shrinking budget due to population growth, adoption of electric/hybrid vehicles, and inflation. Countywide, a backlog of over $1 billion in deferred road maintenance exists. With federal and state funding becoming more competitive and scarce, we cannot wait for our legislature or congress to act. Similar to a deferred maintenance in your home, the cost of repair to our roads continues to rise the longer we wait. Furthermore, we will incur an even greater cost if we need to repave (replace) our roads. One lane of roadway a mile long costs an estimated $28,000 to resurface. That same mile can cost nearly $800,000 if it needs to be repaved. We cannot let our roads reach this level of degradation.
Measure B is a half cent sales tax that focuses on ‘Fix it First’ projects with the requirement that 75% of the funds generated in the first five years are spent on urgent and deferred maintenance such as filling potholes and fixing cracked asphalt before the condition gets worse. As we invest in our maintenance of these facilities, these resurfacing projects also become an opportunity to promote active transportation by adding bikes and pedestrian safety enhancements, for which Measure B provides funding.
In addition to maintenance, Measure B lists several crucial traffic relief projects for Elk Grove and the entire region. Regionally one of the worst “bottlenecks”, widening the Capital City Freeway between J Street and Watt Avenue is a project that can leverage these local funds to receive state and federal match funds. Locally, Measure B includes adding a carpool lane on Hwy 99 from Elk Grove Boulevard to Grantline Road, installing a new interchange at Whitelock Parkway, and improving Kammerer Road.
Whereas our roads are vital to our local economy, we cannot rely solely on one mode of transportation. As our population increases and to ensure a sustainable community for future generations, we need to also invest in a robust transit system that will reduce traffic congestion. For every one percent of people that leave their car and take transit, bike, or walk, there is a five percent reduction in congestion at peak traffic hours. Measure B dedicates funding to extend Light Rail to Elk Grove from Cosumnes River College, connect Light Rail via bus rapid transit, and construct a new intermodal station in Elk Grove. Measure B also includes strict provisions for Regional Transit to improve operations with the same “fix-it-first” requirement included for road maintenance.
Measure B is a common sense solution to a growing problem in our city and our region that includes excellent taxpayer safeguards. With the expiration of Prop 30, the net increase in sales tax is ¼ of a cent. As a safeguard, Measure B requires an oversight committee to ensure that monies are spent only on the projects in the expenditure plan and revenue from Measure B cannot be reallocated to the general fund like state money. Finally, all the projects listed in the Measure B expenditure plan must also go through the public process and approvals like any other public works project.
Now, Elk Grove has an opportunity to plan and invest for a sustainable future. By developing a road and transit system that provides regional connectedness and supports our residents, we will create an enabling condition for employers to locate here. Please join me and those supporting better roads and transit by voting YES on Measure B November 8th.