December 2016

It’s FINAL: Voters say “Yes!” to Measure D for Transportation

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It’s official!  More than two-thirds of Santa Cruz County Voters said “yes” to Measure D.  Years of analysis, planning, and negotiations created a balanced set of programs and projects that will fund transportation improvements for the next thirty years.

Measure D’s  comprehensive and inclusive package of transportation elements guarantees every city and the county an ongoing source of local funding for local streets and road maintenance, bicycle and pedestrian projects especially near schools, and safety projects. It provides Santa Cruz METRO, and Lift Line dedicated funds for transit and paratransit service; and ensures funding for major, essential transportation projects and programs throughout the county, as outlined in the Expenditure Plan for Measure D. The ½ cent local sales tax ballot measure received 83,816 votes (67.78%) and required a super-majority approval of 66.67% to pass.

Don Lane, Chair of the Regional Transportation Commission, stated “Passing Measure D is a significant accomplishment for our county. It is extremely encouraging that so many diverse groups and individuals came together to support Measure D. This will be a game changer for mobility in our community for decades to come. Thank you Santa Cruz County for coming together to get our community moving.”

Measure D is expected to generate approximately $17 million a year. Projects funded by the measure include streets and highways, safety projects to encourage children to walk and bicycle to school, Highway 9 corridor safety improvements, the Highway 17 wildlife undercrossing, new bicycle-pedestrian crossings over Highway 1, transit to prevent additional service cuts, increases in paratransit to serve seniors and people with disabilities, construction and maintenance of the Coastal Rail Trail, and an analysis of transit options for the rail corridor. For more information about the projects approved, visit www.sccrtc.org/move .

Commissioner Bruce McPherson, representing Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley expressed appreciation saying “Thank you to the Regional Transportation Commission Board, the campaign team and the Yes on D voters for approving a well-balanced, sustainable transportation measure that will improve our network for everyone from senior citizens and people with disabilities, to bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. We have a backlog of transportation needs and with our becoming a ‘self help county’ with our own revenues, we have greatly increased our chances to get state and federal grants to address those identified transportation needs.”

The 67.78% vote for Measure D far exceeded a 2004 measure that only garnered 42%.  Differences between the two measures include: the projects included in the measures, the level of community support, funding for the campaign, and local traffic and roadway conditions, which have deteriorated over time.

Commissioner John Leopold noted that “The Regional Transportation Commission worked hard to include community voices in decisions about infrastructure investment to improve transportation and the quality of life in our community. The Regional Transportation Commission is excited and committed to move forward with this significant directive, implement the will of the voters, and uphold your trust. “

Success of Measure D is attributed to a well crafted package of transportation projects based on the community’s diverse mobility needs; the huge number of businesses, organizations, and community members stepping up to publicly support the measure; a well organized, well funded and expertly implemented private campaign funded  by a broad base of businesses, organizations and individuals; and the public’s enthusiasm for supporting transportation improvements to improve the quality of their lives.

The RTC is moving forward to implement Measure D.  Next steps include setting up the framework with the Board of Equalization to receive sales tax funds, developing 30-year and five-year action plans, establishing an oversight committee and other safeguards, pursuing matching grants, and working with the community and project partners — the cities, county, Lift Line, Santa Cruz METRO and the RTC — to implement the expenditure plan. Many of these agreements, procedures and safeguards are outlined in the Measure D Ordinance. The Measure D change in sales tax rate will become effective April 1, 2017 with the first measure-funded projects initiated in spring and summer 2017.  The state sales tax will be reduced ¼ cent on January 1, 2017.

For more information about the Regional Transportation Commission or Measure D, please visit www.sccrtc.org . To receive regular information about implementation of Measure D, please sign up here: https://sccrtc.org/about/esubscriptions/.

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