Measure D: 2016 Transportation Improvement Plan
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY – Update January 26, 2017 – Over 2/3 of Santa Cruz County (83,000) approved Measure D, a 1/2 cent sales tax measure on the November 2016 ballot to fund a comprehensive and inclusive package of transportation improvements. Its passage guarantees every city and the county a steady, direct source of local funding for local streets and road maintenance, bicycle and pedestrian projects especially near schools, safety projects, transit and paratransit service and numerous essential transportation projects and programs throughout the county as outlined in the Expenditure Plan for Measure D. The ½ cent local sales tax required a super majority to pass. Click here for the December 7th press release.
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is rapidly moving forward with implementation of Measure D including administration, fiscal, oversight and engagement activities. In addition, the RTC is working with Meassure D recipient agencies to develop five-year programs of projects, annual report requirements and other required agreements.
The ½ cent, 30-year sales tax measure includes transportation projects that support:
- Providing safer routes to schools for local students;
- Maintaining mobility and independence for seniors and those with disabilities;
- Investing in bicycle and pedestrian pathways and bridges;
- Repaving roadways, repair potholes, and improve safety on local streets;
- Improving traffic flow on major roadways;
- Investing in projects that reduce the pollution that causes global warming.
Para información en español, visite www.sccrtc.org/vamos
What’s Included in the Project Categories?
The ½ cent, 30-year sales tax will provide about $500 million to Santa Cruz County and will support projects within the following FIVE categories:
Click on any of the 5 project categories for details
Locally managed funds for safety, repair, and bicycle/pedestrian improvements
The longer we wait to fix our roads the more it is going to cost taxpayers.
Much of our local roadway system is aging, has potholes and is in need of major repair. 30%, or $150,000,000 of Measure D funds would go directly to city and county Complete Streets transportation projects.
Our transportation system is dangerously underfunded, and everyone knows it. Bad roads affect everyone in the state. They impact the environment and economy, reduce fuel efficiency and increase the cost of vehicle maintenance.
Projects to be Funded:
- Fixing potholes
- Local roadway repairs and maintenance
- Intersection and signal improvements
- New and improved sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes, especially near schools
- Neighborhood safety improvements
Estimated 30-Year Funding Distribution*
Distribution determined by population, lanes miles of roads, and sales tax generated
|City of Capitola||$10,180,000|
|City of Santa Cruz||$33,000,000|
|City of Scotts Valley||$7,310,000|
|City of Watsonville||$23,080,000|
|SLV Highway 9 Corridor Improvements||$10,000,000|
|Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing||$5,000,000|
* Allocations stated rounded to nearest ten thousand dollars
Bicycle and pedestrian Coastal Trail construction and maintenance
The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail / Coastal Rail Trail will be a paved bicycle and pedestrian pathway to be built within the 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line corridor. The rail trail forms the spine of the 50-mile Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network. Additional trail projects will connect the rail trail to key destinations and activity centers.
Measure D would provide an estimated additional $85,000,000 towards the Coastal Rail Trail, including:
- Construction of bicycle and pedestrian trail sections connecting Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos, and Watsonville
- New bike and pedestrian bridges
- Adding lighting and security features
- Keeping the trail safe and clean for active use
- Storm and drainage management
- Leveraging matching state and federal grants for full Coastal Rail Trail network completion
The first three segments of the rail trail – on the North Coast, in the City of Santa Cruz and in the City of Watsonville – will result in close to 11 miles of trails that will be 12 to 16 feet wide. The first three segments are scheduled to be under construction by 2018.
Bicycle/pedestrian overcrossings, merge lanes between exits, safety and carpool programs
Santa Cruz County Highways 1 and 17 are the region’s main thoroughfares. Measure D would provide $125,000,000 in funding to improve safety and traffic flow, fund car-free highway overcrossings, and other safety programs.
On Highway 1, extending three mid-county on-ramps to create full merge lanes down to Aptos (State Park Drive) between exits would allow more time for motorists to merge and exit safely.
Measure D would provide an estimated $97,000,000 for auxiliary merge lanes between:
- Soquel Drive and 41st Avenue (A)
- Bay Ave/Porter St and Park Avenue (B)
- Park Avenue and State Park Drive (C)
Improving the traffic flow and safety of merging on Highway 1 would benefit:
- Mid- and south-county commuters with commutes too long to bike or walk
- Response times for medical, fire, and law enforcement
- Bus riders on cross-county routes
- Neighborhoods which currently experience cut-through traffic during commute times
Measure D would also provide an estimated $7,000,000 for 2 new bicycle and pedestrian bridges over Highway 1
- In Live Oak at Chanticleer Avenue (A)
- In Seacliff/Aptos at Mar Vista Drive (B)
Other safety and system efficiency programs would receive an estimated $21,000,000, including:
- Cruz 511 County traveler information service
- Safe on 17: law enforcement, drainage, warning devices, tree trimming and other safety efforts on Highway 17
- Freeway Service Patrol tow trucks helping disabled vehicles and removing debris from Highway 1 and Highway 17
Questions about Highway 1 Corridor Projects in Measure D?
View the latest Frequently Asked Questions (revised 10/20/16)
Preserve Metro Bus, Paracruz, and Liftline services
While some people may be able to ride a bike or walk to their destinations, many people depend on transit for short and longer distance trips. Transit can reduce social and economic inequalities by enhancing mobility for all.
Transit and paratransit provide services for seniors, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Providing specialized transportation to these disadvantaged groups helps keep them healthy, mobile, and active in their community.
Measure D funds would provide:
- Santa Cruz Metro Transit District with an estimated $80,000,000 to preserve Bus and Paracruz services.
- Non-profit Community Bridges Lift Line with $20,000,000 for Paratransit service
Metro Santa Cruz:
- Measure D would help stabilize fixed-route bus and ParaCruz funding and service levels. Without Measure D funds additional service reductions are likely. The recent changes to Metro service levels only resolved operating deficits for the next 1-2 years.
- Additional service reductions would impact the most vulnerable among Metro’s 5.5 million annual boarding customers, especially seniors, those with disabilities and veterans transported on both the fixed-route bus and ParaCruz services.
- Measure D funding may also provide some fixed-route and ParaCruz service expansion.
Community Bridges Lift Line:
- With Measure D funding, Lift Line would be able to increase their service schedule from 5 days per week to 7 days per week
- Measure D funding would increase Lift Line’s ability to provide service by 30%, and cover paratransit service areas not covered by Metro Paracruz
Environmental analysis of rail and other options on the corridor
After many years of effort and negotiations, the SCCRTC purchased the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line to expand transportation options and alternatives to driving, and plan for future mobility needs. Uses of this continuous transportation corridor could include:
- Freight/goods movement
- Excursion services
- Bicycle/pedestrian path.
Given the few cross-county travel options and the condition cost of projects on Highway 1, use of this established transportation corridor must carefully consider not only today’s transportation needs, but also those of future generations. Over half the county’s population lives within ½ mile of the corridor.
The mobility needs for all community members must be taken into account including people of all ages, physical abilities, and commute distances.
Future transit service on the corridor could provide a low stress, environmentally friendly and travel time reliable alternative to driving on Highway 1.
Measure D would provide $40,000,000 in funding for the Rail Corridor, to:
- Protect and maintain the right-of-way including existing infrastructure
- Perform in-depth environmental and economic analysis of future transit and other transportation options on the right-of-way through a transparent public process
- Funding from Measure D will not be used to begin new rail service. Future rail service operations could require an additional source of funding.
- See the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail/Coastal Rail Trail section for more on that project
Accountability is of utmost importance in delivering public investments with public dollars. In order to ensure accountability, transparency and public oversight of all funds collected and allocated under this Measure, the following oversight measures will be taken:
Made available to the public by each agency receiving Measure revenue , including a five-year plan of projects adopted after a public hearing, and a description of Measure revenue expenditures for the past fiscal year.
Conducted by an independent auditor of the expenditure of all funds generated by the transportation tax. This audit will be made available to the public, and will be accompanied by an annual report on past and upcoming activities and an annual financial statement by the SCCRTC.
Committee formed by the Commissioners of the SCCRTC to review the independent annual audit and issue an annual report regarding its compliance with the Expenditure Plan and the Ordinance. The Oversight Committee shall not exceed five (5) members, and they shall be residents of Santa Cruz County who are not elected officials from any government, nor employees of any agency or organization which oversees or implements projects funded by the sales tax, and the members will also fairly represent the geographical, social, cultural, and economic diversity of Santa Cruz County. The Independent Oversight Committee will hold announced public meetings one to four (1-4) times per year.
Local jurisdictions are required to use the new funds to supplement, not replace existing revenues used for transportation (see CA Public Utilities Code 180001e). Annual fiscal audits will include analysis of this Maintenance of Effort.
Why are new transportation funds needed?
- Existing state, federal and local revenues do not cover the cost to operate, maintain, and improve the existing transportation system.
- Existing infrastructure includes local roadways, bridges, highways, buses, vans, bus stops, train tracks, sidewalks and bike lanes.
- State Gas tax, the main source of local transportation funds, has decreased 50% in the last three years due to: increased fuel efficiency and diversion by state to other uses.
- Inflation also decreases purchasing power; the state and federal gas taxes have been the same for over 20 years.
- Federal funds for projects in Santa Cruz County have dropped significantly and are increasingly insufficient. The federal gas tax has not increased since 1993 and most competitive grants are directed to large urban areas.
- Future state and federal funding projections continue to look grim.
- The state only pays for operations and maintenance on state highways, not new projects.
- Over 80% of Californians live in communities that have already decided to become transportation “self help” counties. Santa Cruz County is not one of them, putting us at a severe competitive disadvantage when applying for funding.
Are transportation projects self-supporting?
- Few if any transportation facilities or services used by the public are self supporting.
- Streets and highways, transit and paratransit, sidewalks and bicycle lanes are constructed and maintained using continually decreasing public funding and user fees (i.e. gas taxes).
- In addition to direct costs, indirect costs include patrols and enforcement, pollution and waste, health, accidents and parking.
What happens if we don’t secure new local transportation funds?
- All transportation services and facilities in Santa Cruz County will get worse.
- Road conditions will deteriorate and will cost more to repair in the long run.
- Traffic congestion will continue and spill over traffic will keep negatively affecting neighborhoods.
- Fewer improvements will be possible in the Highway 9 corridor.
- Less investment in safe routes to school for children will be made.
- Increasing numbers of seniors will have less service to meet their specialized mobility needs.
- Development of the Coastal Rail Trail will take years longer.
- State and federal funding sources are expected to continue to decline resulting in fewer transportation funds and less investment in all local transportation options.
- We probably won’t get another chance to locally fund our local transportation system for 8-12 years due to: 1) the many other community funding needs (parks, schools, first responders, etc); 2) presidential elections fare better for local funding measures; 3) support building takes time; and 4) without additional legislation, there is a sales tax cap equaling 2 cents over state rate.
What is the condition of the local transportation network?
Pavement Conditions in all five jurisdictions (4 cities and the county) are in the “at risk category measuring 50-60 out of 100; deferred maintenance today results in more costly future repairs
- Transit buses and paratransit vans are old resulting in costly vehicle repairs and maintenance. Break downs impact our community’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
- Families are requesting improvements to provide students safe routes to walk and bike to school.
- Distressed bridges are in need of repair or replacement.
- Our coastal county is space-constrained which limits transportation options and puts a premium on maintaining and improving the efficiency of existing facilities.
What are the projections for the future?
- Santa Cruz County is projected to continue growing, albeit at a slow pace.
- Even with modest population and employment growth, without additional investments existing infrastructure and traffic delays are projected to worsen.
- Lack of planning for future transportation needs will equate to more dysfunction and gridlock.
- A range of viable transportation choices encourages wider use of options based on trip type, distance, ability, conditions, weather and other factors.
- Most development in the county is now planned to be infill in urban areas that are served by public transit, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
- Seniors are the fastest growing segment in our community (nearly 100 turn 60 every week in 2015) and to stay independent will increasingly need mobility options.
What types of projects are included in the transportation plan?
- Five categories are included to meet the transportation needs of all residents, regardless of their age, ability, location or travel preference.
- See Expenditure Plan for details
Who are the recipients and how would funds be allocated?
- See the Expenditure Plan for the percentages of funding and allocations.
- For local roads and other neighborhood projects, funds will be distributed to the local jurisdictions based on a formula which based on population, road miles and revenue generation. This shows how funds would be distributed based on today’s sales tax revenues
- Funding for transit and paratransit (lift-equipped vans) would be distributed to the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District and Community Bridges by formula.
- Funding from Measure D would also be available for other regional projects such as traffic flow improvements in Highway 1, bicycle/pedestrian overcrossings, expanding and maintaining the Coastal Rail Trail and planning for future transportation needs using the rail corridor.
Why is a ½ cent sales tax for 30 years proposed for transportation purposes?
- This approach brings in the highest return, compared with other potential revenue sources.
- Sales taxes are also paid by visitors and students.
- Santa Cruz County sales tax revenues are low relative to other counties with larger employment bases
- The 30-year time frame is needed to generate pay-as-you-go revenues, as well as to be able to bond and accelerate higher cost items. Accelerated projects save costs over time due to inflation.
- Pursuing a gas tax increase has proven to be unpopular and to has little chance of success (5 cents gas tax = ¼ cent sales tax, 10 cents gas tax = ½ cent sales tax)
- A Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) may be pursued at a later date; however, the allowed $10 per vehicle registration fee would generate about $2.5 million a year, roughly 15% of the amount proposed by the sales tax ($17m/year).
How does the package of projects in Measure D benefit everyone in the county?
- The largest category of transportation projects is the direct allocation to the county and four cities for neighborhood projects.
- Maintenance of local streets and roads, improvements for kids bicycling or walking to school and other neighborhood safety projects will take place in all parts of the county.
- Locals will be able to participate in decisions about transportation projects in their community via their city councils and county board of supervisors.
- Regional projects provide benefits to community members throughout the county directly through the provision of service or indirectly by keeping our community mobile, economically vibrant, and using active transportation options to meet the range of transportation options desired by the community.
How much over current expenditures would these road maintenance funds bring in?
- Increases range from 137% to 185% over today’s road operation and maintenance budgets (see chart below)
- Measure D would provide approximately the following annual revenue: Unincorporated County – $2.5m, City of Santa Cruz – $1.1m, City of Watsonville – $770k, City of Capitola – $340k, City of Scotts Valley – $240k
Do specific constraints of our county impact our transportation options?
- The ocean and voter-approved greenbelt provide fixed boundaries for urban development within most of the county, and decrease the amount of parallel route options.
- Rural areas of the county are less populated and harder to serve.
- Many of the lowest income families living in south county travel the longest distances to jobs in north county and are disproportionately affected by Highway 1 congestion.
Will Measure D funds solve all of our transportation needs?
- No, however funds generated will provide a much needed increase for local road maintenance and other network projects, in addition to providing the competitive match needed to secure additional state and federal grant dollars.
- The long range plan — Regional Transportation Plan — estimates that local transportation needs are roughly double the estimated available funding.
How would all communities in Santa Cruz County benefit from becoming a Self Help County with a voter approved local transportation measure?
- Leverage funds: Local dollars attracts additional funding resources – up to $9 for every $1 in local sales tax revenues. These local dollars will allow cities, the County, the RTC, METRO, and Liftline to compete for federal and state grants that require a local match. Many local agencies cannot even compete for grant programs because they do not have local funds available to provide minimum required match.
- Community vitality: Funds allow local agencies to complete major capital infrastructure projects, operate public transit and paratransit services and focus on projects providing economic vitality to communities and meet the needs of people at all income levels.
- Job creation: Local sales tax dollars are pumped back into the local economy during project implementation. Local transportation measures create and maintain jobs for transportation infrastructure, operations and maintenance.
- Funding Stability: Provides a reliable and secure funding stream that is far greater than state and federal funding on an annual basis.
- Accountability: Local measures have extensive accountability requirements for public oversight of taxpayer’s dollars.
- Direct access: The public can communicate directly with locally elected decision-makers, at public meetings and through other public opportunities to participate at the local level.
- Commitment: Expenditure plans explicitly detail how funds will be spent, allowing the public to fully understand and have assurance about where their local transportation dollars go.
Why do 80% of Californians live in Self Help Counties?
- Local funding is locally controlled for local priorities; most state and federal funding is dedicated to specific uses.
- Funding cannot be taken by the state; secure funding helps cities and county plan projects.
- Local funds have a multiplier effect; they can be used as a match to bring in additional state and federal grant funds.
- Grants are increasingly competitive and require matching funds. Without local funds, many agencies are unable to even apply for some grants.
- Twelve counties have transportation measures on the ballot this November in an effort to join the majority of the self help population.
- Congestion and aging infrastructure are common problems in many communities, not just Santa Cruz County.
How can I get more information about transportation self help counties?
- Go to: selfhelpcounties.org
How were projects in Measure D determined?
- The projects were determined through the long range Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) completed in 2014 with an extensive public process and using sustainability measurements to help identify community priorities.
- Polling of likely voters was also conducted to determine highest support, given the 2/3 majority requirement for a measure to pass.
- Sustainability was measured using a rating system based on: access, travel time, fuel consumption, economic benefit, network improvements, efficiency, safety, reduction in miles traveled/pollution, serve disadvantaged communities, equality, and preservation of existing infrastructure.
How was the public involved?
- Major public engagement for the projects in Measure D/Transportation Improvement Plan took place over the course of two years with the community including neighborhood, business, environmental, civic, elderly and other groups
- Public hearings were held on the draft Transportation Improvement Plan and adoption of final package of projects, ordinance and components of the 2016 Transportation Measure
How is Measure D different from the 2004 transportation Measure J?
- Measure D contains a balanced, inclusive set of transportation categories, based on years of public engagement, compromise and sustainability evaluation.
- Measure J was a top-down developed package of projects, with little public participation, which included the majority of funds (64%) for Highway 1.
What happens if the measure passes?
- Funds will begin to be collected in April 2017.
- The local sales tax will increase by ½ cent per $1 dollar spent, or 50 cents per $100.
- Because the state sales tax is scheduled to decrease by ¼ cent per $1 dollar spent, the effective sales tax increase of Measure D based on today’s tax rates will be ¼ cent per $1 dollar spent.
- Most projects will be implemented on a pay-as-you-go approach. However some regional projects may be accelerated using bond financing.
What can the funds be used for?
- Project development, environmental analysis, design, construction and maintenance
- Other costs could include landscaping, and public engagement
How will project sequencing and delivery within the 30 year timeframe be determined?
- Most projects will move forward in a pay-as-you-go approach, as funds become available.
- Decisions about neighborhood project priorities will be made by local jurisdictions (Board of Supervisors, City Councils) based on their Capital Improvement Plans and public input
- Some larger or regional projects may borrow or issue bonds against dedicated revenue streams to be constructed sooner at lower costs.
How can projects be accelerated?
- Some larger or regional projects may borrow or issue bonds in order to build them earlier in the timeframe of the transportation measure.
- Generally project costs increase over time, due in part to inflation, and the costs to borrow funding or bond to accelerate these projects is frequently offset by the increased cost of building the project later.
What are the primary strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources?
- Improve the transportation system and operational efficiencies for better traffic flow
- Reduce single-occupant vehicle travel by increasing the number of people per vehicle and providing travel options.
- Transition to lower greenhouse gas emitting vehicle technologies
- Improve vehicle technology/efficiency
Does Measure D help Santa Cruz County meet pollution and land use mandates?
- Yes, Measure D provides an inclusive range of transportation options, including transit and bicycle/pedestrian projects that help reduce GHG emissions. Many projects encourage zero emission transportation such as bicycling and walking.
- Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) requires that statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. (updated 9/29/16)
- California’s target for zero-emission vehicles is 1.5 million by 2025. This will further reduce greenhouse gases even if people drive the same amount of miles.
- Measure D helps implement the priority projects included in the long range Regional Transportation Plan which, if fully funded and combined with land use changes, are projected to cut per capita GHG by over 17% compared to 2005 emissions. This analysis is based primarily on reductions in the number of vehicle miles people travel. Vehicle technology improvements are expected to generate additional greenhouse gas emission reductions but these GHG reduction mechanisms were not included as part of this analysis. (updated 9/29/16)
- State mandates (SB375) require transportation and land use planning to be coordinated. (updated 9/29/16)
- Approved in September, 2016, Senate Bill 32 requires the state board to ensure statewide greenhouse gas emission reductions of 40% below 1990 limits by 2030. (updated 9/29/16)
What is the voter approval threshold for this type of measure and why?
- Measures with specific funding plans require a super majority (2/3), in contrast to non-specified measures which require a simple majority.
- Community sentiment favors a specified transportation funding plan.
- Measure D will require a super majority to succeed.
Why can’t people vote on the projects individually?
- Polling of likely Santa Cruz County voters generally shows that there is less than 2/3 support for individual transportation projects and higher support for a package of projects, creating an all-or-nothing situation.
- The best chance for success is an inclusive package of transportation projects that meets the needs of all residents, regardless of where they live and how they get around.
- Our coastal county is space-constrained which limits transportation options and puts a premium on maintaining and improving the efficiency of all existing facilities.
Is the voter profile different from the general population?
- Yes, likely voters tend to be older and do not mirror the population patterns of the county.
- November 2016 is a presidential election year, which tends to have the highest voter turnout and best chance of success.
What audits, accountability and taxpayer safeguards, requirements are included?
- Annual financial audits will be performed
- An independent oversight committee will review expenditures, audits, and reports by recipients
- Outreach materials will share results with the public
How will “Maintenance of Effort” be ensured?
- Local jurisdictions and other entities will be required to use the new funds to supplement, not replace existing revenues used for transportation purposes.
- The CA Public Utilities Code (180001e) outlines these requirements, stating that new funds “be used to supplement and not replace existing local revenues used for transportation purposes.”
- Annual fiscal audits will include an analysis of Maintenance of Effort to ensure that the new funding is not used to replace existing funding.
Are other provisions included to safeguard voter intent, yet leave some flexibility for 30-year changes?
- The approved ordinance includes specific language to define how the transportation plan will be administered and implemented, exemptions and exclusions, and other provisions.
- All of the funds, with the exception of two smaller projects, will be administered on a percentage basis with funds available will depend on sales tax receipts which fluctuate with the economy.
- The Expenditure Plan outlines the project categories and amounts.
- The ordinance specifies that under a specific set of conditions — to account for unexpected revenues; to take into account unforeseen circumstances; or if a planned project becomes undeliverable, infeasible or unfundable — that the plan may only be amended by following the process set forth in the Public Utilities Code (Section 180207) which includes documentation, public notice and a super-majority vote of the authority (RTC).
- May 2016 a $1.5 billion shortfall in gas tax revenues forced the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to cut or delay $1.5 billion in transportation projects, including a $754 million (38 percent) CUT in highway, rail, bicycle and pedestrian, and transit projects. The state warned of delays or outright cancellations of major projects if local and regional governments didn’t have their own transportation funds.
- The increasing number of electric and hybrid powered vehicles pay even less for the maintenance and operation of the road and highway network.
Fact Sheets about Measure D
Measure D File Library
Senior Transportation Planner