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Measure D Can Get County Moving Again
This article posted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Saturday, October 8, 2016. Collaborators of the article included Mark Dettle, Scott Hamby, Steve Jesberg, Steve Palmisano and John Preseligh.
Measure D, November’s local sales tax measure to get our county moving again, has a lot of pieces to it but ultimately only one choice when it comes to our our failing transportation system: doing something or doing nothing.
We, the public works directors of every jurisdiction in the county, live our transportation problems every day, but so do you. We know the dangers you face when walking or biking over crowded neighborhood roads, or the concerns you have because your children don’t have safer routes to schools. We feel your frustrations about jarring potholes and broken asphalt, and the need for better public transit options. And we know that time spent sitting in Highway 1 traffic is time spent away from your families.
If we could fix these problems now, we would. But due to lack of funding we can’t. And while Measure D won’t fix everything, it’s a step in the right direction. In fact, it’s much more than that.
Measure D is a carefully crafted proposal with many benefits for local roads, transit, bicycling and walking. Moreover, the greatest share of the money — 30 percent — is set aside for local roads. The cities and county devised a distribution formula based on population, road miles and sales taxes generated. We believe it is fair and equitable.
Over the 30-year life of the measure, Scotts Valley would receive more than $7 million for local roads, Capitola would receive more than $10 million, Watsonville would receive more than $23 million and Santa Cruz would receive $33 million. And the county would receive nearly $75 million for residents in Soquel, Aptos, the North Coast and other unincorporated areas.
One generally accepted measure of road conditions is called the pavement condition index, or PCI. It is based on a scale of one to 100, with zero the worst possible condition and 100 the best, and — as you as aware — the picture in Santa Cruz County isn’t pretty. The average PCI in the city of Santa Cruz comes in at 61. Capitola’s PCI is 57, Scotts Valley comes in at 58 and Watsonville’s is 53. And in unincorporated Santa Cruz County, the number is 46. It is a daunting challenge.
We will put the money to work improving sidewalks, bike infrastructure, safe routes to schools and of course repaving roads. The funds will allow us to maintain our existing infrastructure in a cost-effective manner, saving us from much more expensive projects down the road.
Beyond local roads, Measure D includes funding for two new bike and pedestrian Highway 1 overcrossings, and continues the new Highway 1 exit lanes from Soquel Drive out to State Park Drive. It includes funding for the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail, a game-changer for eco-friendly commuting and recreation options. It supports Metro bus service and paratransit, and includes funding for traffic safety projects, Highway 9 improvements in the San Lorenzo Valley and even a Highway 17 wildlife crossing.
These pieces all fit together. For example, our local roads are severely impacted by Highway 1, where it’s as if the levees have broken and flooded our neighborhoods with cars. We have to begin to repair the damage while providing alternative transportation modes to further lessen the burden on local roads. That is why the measure includes a greater share for bike and pedestrian access than any measure on the ballot in California.
We would love it if the state Legislature would provide additional transportation funding. In fact, we’ve been advocating for that for years. But unfortunately, an agreement on new road funding remains uncertain.
We can’t continue waiting while the situation deteriorates further. So many of our neighboring counties — San Mateo County, Marin County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara County, Alameda County and many more — have already created a self-help system for local road repairs by adopting similar measures.
This week, ballots are being mailed to voters. We have heard your cries for help. If you give us the opportunity, we stand ready to answer the call.
Posted to the Santa Cruz Sentinel on 10/08/16 at 3:56 PM PDT.
Mark Dettle is public works director for the city of Santa Cruz, Scott Hamby is public works director for the City of Scotts Valley, Steve Jesberg is public works director for the City of Capitola, Steve Palmisano is public works director for the City of Watsonville; and John Preseligh is public works director for the County of Santa Cruz.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 10th, 2016 at 2:42 pm and is filed under City of Watsonville, Homepage News, Public Works . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.