Leaders in Sacramento County know that to have a thriving and sustainable community we need a high-functioning, integrated transportation network.
As our economy recovers, people are driving more, which leads to a more significant need for our roads to be repaired. We also need money to maintain an adequate public transit system to reduce traffic congestion and give people alternate commuting options.
For several years, the Sacramento Transportation Authority has been exploring the feasibility of asking voters to approve a half-cent transportation sales tax. On April 28, the authority board voted to start the process of putting the measure on the November ballot and approved a spending plan.
In the weeks since, city councils in Elk Grove, Citrus Heights, Galt and Rancho Cordova have approved the plan. This week, so did the Folsom and Sacramento city councils and the county Board of Supervisors. On June 9, the transportation authority board plans to formally ask supervisors to put the sales tax measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, and supervisors are expected to go along the following week.
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The spending plan would quickly address road repair needs with “fix it first” projects and plan for longer-term improvements to our highway and transit systems. If the measure is passed by two-thirds of voters, 70 percent of revenue over 30 years would fund local roads, transit, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements and two major regional highway traffic relief projects.
The other 30 percent would fund Sacramento Regional Transit District operations and maintenance, potential light-rail extensions if RT meets ridership and fare revenue standards, Paratransit services and an Elk Grove project complementing the Blue Line extension to Cosumnes River College.
These investments will help create jobs, drive economic growth and improve quality of life for our communities. Better roads decrease congestion and create faster connections between home, school, work, shopping and recreation.
We cannot wait for state and federal funding to meet our transportation needs. This sales tax will provide a stable, local source of funding, and also attract state and federal funding, to support a safe and efficient network of roads, public transit and bicycle and pedestrian projects that we all can rely on every day.
Kerri Howell, a Folsom City Council member, is chairwoman of the Sacramento Transportation Authority. She can be contacted at email@example.com.