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$7.7 billion Transportation Expenditure Plan approved for Alameda County
By Tess Lengyel
Poll finds 79 percent of Alameda County voters support transportation funding
-- The Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) Board of Directors approved a $7.7 billion Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) on January 26, 2012. The TEP will guide spending for transportation projects in Alameda County over a 30-year period. The projects will be funded through the augmentation and extension of the existing county transportation sales tax measure, which will appear on the ballot in November 2012.
A recent telephone survey of Alameda County voters revealed that 79 percent support extending and augmenting the county's existing half-cent transportation sales tax (Measure B) on a November 2012 ballot to fund the county's current and future transportation needs.
"This plan provides a tremendous opportunity to move the county forward on broad-based transportation needs. The plan is heavily supportive of transit and there is something in it for everyone: walkers, cyclists, transit riders, drivers, seniors and youth. I think we have a plan that will achieve 2/3 of voter support in November 2012," stated Mayor Mark Green, Chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission.
TEP ENCOMPASSES MANY TRANSPORTATION NEEDS
The TEP addresses all aspects of the county's complex transportation system. It includes projects and/or improvements for new and existing freeways, freight, local streets and roads and major funding increases to public transit (paratransit, buses, rails and ferries). It also includes significantly more funding for facilities and programs to support bicycling, walking and transit-oriented development.
Reducing traffic congestion in key corridors is a critical component, as is funding to support demographic trends like the growing population of seniors and urban residents who need more transit services close to housing, services and jobs.
"This is a huge opportunity for communities throughout Alameda County that will go far to address their transportation needs in the coming years. This measure significantly increases funding for all aspects of transportation and reaches into all corners of Alameda County. Lastly, it provides funds to build a much needed and long-awaited final segment of BART along the chronically congested I-580 corridor to Livermore," stated Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Vice-Chair of Alameda CTC.
"The TEP gives Alameda County voters an opportunity to create for themselves the kind of sustainable communities they would like to see," said Nate Miley, President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and Alameda CTC Board member. "This plan provides billions of dollars for important transportation projects, supports job growth and restores and maintains critical transit service."
The TEP encompasses a $7.7 billion multi-modal plan over an initial 30 year period. Highlights of the plan include: $3.7 billion (48 percent) for mass transit, including transportation for seniors and the disabled; $2.3 billion (30 percent) for local streets and roads; $677M (9 percent) for highway improvements and efficiencies, including those for freight; $651M (8 percent) for safer bicycle and pedestrian routes; $300M (4 percent) for sustainable land use and transportation; and $77.4M (1 percent) for technology and innovation.
The plan supports a range of many different goals, from maintaining the existing system to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The following are key points the plan addresses:
FIX IT FIRST. 70 percent of the funds are dedicated to maintaining and operating the existing transportation system.
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES STRATEGY (SCS) AND GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) REDUCTIONS. 60 percent of funds support implementation of the SCS being developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which supports the mandates of Senate Bill 375. The long range transportation plan out of which the TEP was derived shows GHG reductions of 24-25 percent per capita. Funding is included for transit-oriented development supporting the linkage between transportation, housing, and jobs. Major funding increases are included for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit.
UNPRECEDENTED TRANSIT INVESTMENTS. AC Transit funding is increased by more than 100 percent of the current funding allocated by the existing transportation sales tax. BART maintenance and station modernization improvements are included. A "Student Transit Pass Program" will be developed and funded to support student access to schools. Rail, bus, and BART expansions, which require the use of the most effective and efficient technologies, will be funded.
CRITICAL ROAD, HIGHWAY AND FREIGHT INVESTMENTS will be made that close gaps and improve efficiencies, safety and access.
The TEP comes with important accountability measures, such as an independent Watchdog Committee, annual independent audits and reports to the public, strict environmental funding deadlines, performance and accountability measures on every contract and voter approval of a new plan every 20 years.
THE PUBLIC SUPPORTS TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
In early October 2011, a representative sample of 805 Alameda County registered voters was interviewed in a split-sample poll about transportation funding. Roughly half of the respondents were asked if they would support extending the existing half-cent transportation sales tax and increasing it by a half-cent. The other half of the respondents was asked if they would support a new half-cent transportation sales tax.
According to the survey results, extending and augmenting the half-cent transportation sales tax is preferable to a new half-cent-only measure. Voters want to regularly approve new expenditure plans with citizen oversight. Audits and a local jobs-creation program are also important to voters. Five key elements from the survey garnered strong support: 1) Local street maintenance and improvements; 2) Mass transit programs to get people out of their cars; 3) Highway maintenance and improvements; 4) Critical road and transportation improvements; 5) Safer bike and pedestrian routes.
EXTENSIVE COMMUNITY INPUT OBTAINED
Concurrent with development of the TEP, Alameda CTC has also been developing the Countywide Transportation Plan (CWTP), which will guide sustainable transportation planning and future land use development across the county for the next 25 years. The TEP is a funding document for many of the CWTP projects. The new CWTP and TEP are critical to proactively prepare for Alameda County's future transportation needs.
To develop the CWTP and TEP, Alameda CTC engaged in extensive public outreach to the diverse communities within the county and especially to those who face particular transportation challenges. Public input was essential to the TEP development and is reflected in its content.
Alameda CTC conducted more than 40 public meetings to develop the TEP and worked with a Steering Committee of elected officials from throughout the county, a 27-member Community Advisory Working Group, and a 58-member Technical Advisory Working Group. These committees include representatives from 15 local jurisdictions, six transit operators, Caltrans District 4, the Port of Oakland, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and community, environmental and social justice stakeholders. The committees helped identify and prioritize projects and programs. Full details of the plan and its developmental process may be found at www.alamedactc.org.
TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN ALAMEDA COUNTY
The existing Measure B half-cent transportation sales tax, which was passed by voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2000, is a key source of funding for transportation projects and programs in Alameda County. Most of the existing capital projects have either been built or are under construction.
The Alameda CTC will seek approval of the TEP from the majority of cities in Alameda County representing the majority of the population, before seeking approval from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors will then place the plan on the ballot for the November 2012 election.
THE ALAMEDA COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
The Alameda County Transportation Commission is a county-wide transportation agency, created through the merger of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) and the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA). Its mission is to plan, fund and deliver a broad spectrum of transportation projects and programs to enhance mobility throughout Alameda County. This merger creates efficiencies in planning, programs and projects delivery and also streamlines legislative, policy and funding efforts and, in the first year, saved over $3M in taxpayer dollars.
For more information on the Alameda CTC, ACCMA and ACTIA, visit www.AlamedaCTC.org.