November Transportation Ballot Measure Approved by Cities & County

The Regional Transportation Commission’s “Safety, Pothole Repair, Traffic Relief, Transit Improvement Measure” will appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot after securing approval from the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

The measure includes a balanced mix of projects across transportation modes and geographic areas of Santa Cruz County, many of which are needed improvements to the local transportation network that will not happen without new local funding. The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) developed the ballot measure over the last two years based on extensive public input and support.

Projects in the plan will improve safety for children walking and bicycling near schools; repair potholes; repave streets; improve traffic flow on Highway 1; maintain transportation for seniors and people with disabilities; reduce global warming and air pollution by providing transportation options like sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails; preserve and analyze transit options in the rail corridor; and deliver other projects to meet the mobility needs of current and future generations. If approved by the voters in November, the half-cent sales tax measure would also reduce reliance on Sacramento and Washington for transportation funding, create local jobs and stimulate local economic vitality.

Based on vast and broad community input, the 2016 Transportation Improvement Measure boosts transit funding, especially for seniors and people with disabilities, and pares down projects in the rail corridor to only include property management/maintenance and a transparent public analysis of future transportation uses of the corridor.

The one-half cent sales tax measure includes citizen oversight, independent audits, and strict financial accounting requirements. With the state’s ¼ cent sales tax increase expiring at the end of the year, the measure would effectively only increase sales taxes by ¼ cent over current levels.

Supervisor Zach Friend noted that the measure represents a holistic transportation plan to meet the varied needs of the community; Supervisor John Leopold confirmed that the measure reflects public input, Supervisor Ryan Coonerty stated that the success of the measure will now be decided by the voters, and Supervisor Bruce McPherson reiterated the need to become a transportation “self help” county in order to receive matching dollars from federal and state transportation funds.

More information about projects in the expenditure plan, and ordinance for the ballot measure is available on the RTC website:

Summary of Key Benefits:

  • Safety for kids near schools: New funding for safe school-route bike and walk projects
  • Local street repair: Repairing potholes and maintaining/repaving local streets and roads countywide, improved neighborhood safety for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Maintain transit and paratransit services for seniors, veterans and residents with disabilities
  • Improvements to Highways 1, 9 and 17:
    • Highway 1: Improve traffic flow for employees (especially from Aptos and Watsonville), businesses, transit buses and first responders through the addition of auxiliary lanes
    • Highway 17: Funding the Safe-on-17 Freeway Service Patrol and protection for motorists and wildlife by building a wildlife undercrossing at Laurel Curve
    • Highway 9: Safety improvements in the San Lorenzo Valley, especially near schools
  • Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail: Continued expansion of the Coastal Rail Trail for cyclists and pedestrians along the rail corridor in Watsonville, Santa Cruz and Capitola, and connecting to Monterey County
  • Investigation of future transit options in the rail corridor: Conduct a transparent public process to analyze options to meet future mobility needs; the plan does not include funding for any new commuter or visitor rail service.
  • New bridges for cyclists and pedestrians: Cyclist- and pedestrian-only bridges to be built over Highway 1 at Chanticleer St. and Mar Vista Dr