Sacramento should be bright on funding transportation

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 7:06 PM

That means boosting public transit and encouraging infill housing, not paving new highways that'll lead to more sprawl. And that’s the direction the when it debates putting a sales tax measure on the Nov ballot – and chooses a spending map to go along with it.

Sacramento should be bright on funding transportation

If voters are going to be asked to pay higher sales taxes to fund Sacramento County’s transportation network, it should create sense in our era of global warming and sustainable development.

That means boosting public transit and encouraging infill housing, not paving new highways that'll lead to more sprawl.

And that’s the direction the when it debates putting a sales tax measure on the Nov ballot – and chooses a spending map to go along with it.

The tax expand would generate a projected , as well as local matches to apply for state and federal grants. It'd lift the countywide sales tax from eight % to 8.5 percent, and would be on top of , the half-cent transportation sales tax first levied in one thousand nine hundred eighty-ninth.

Below one plan, three-fourths of the income would go to local roads, pedestrian and bicycle projects, and regional highways. About ten % each would go to Regional Transit operations and light-rail extensions, including to Sacramento International Airport.

Below a second option, local roads and regional highways would obtain two-thirds of the money, while Regional Transit would obtain nearly thirty percent. That disagreement adds up over thirty years – $300 million more to replace aging light-rail cars, make better stations and pay for operations.

This option would be a lifesaver for RT, which is struggling to dig out of a financial hole and is starting in July. In return, Regional Transit would absolutely necessity to hold its promises to fix customer service and become more accountable.

Option two is also more in line with a 20-year transportation map endorsed in Feb by the that'll make better air quality and promote bright growth. The blueprint focuses on repairing and maintaining existing highways and unclogging major traffic bottlenecks such as the Capital City Freeway, and calls for cutting money from new highways and adding money for transit.

Plans are all well and good, but how we spend precious money is where the rubber meets the road.

The – which includes all five county supervisors, five Sacramento City Council members and representatives from Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt and Rancho Cordova – faces a balancing act. Suburban executive may be more interested in new roads, while Sacramento is leaning toward transit.

The board is trying to reach consensus, if not a unanimous vote, so that it can go to voters with a united front on the sales tax. To reach the ballot, the authority’s spending map should be approved by the county Board of Supervisors, plus a majority of city councils.

The board also is trying to arrive up with a map that can win support from at minimum two-thirds of voters. A poll done latest mo for the authority suggests that the sales tax can pass, with powerful support for “fix it first” road and bridge projects but also for light rail, buses and pedestrian safety.

Voters seem to realize the reality – that just building more highways isn’t the solution. The county’s elected executive should give them a sales tax map that does as well.

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