Contra Costa County voters are considering whether to tax themselves to pay for transportation, and the plan accompanying the measure has a few potentially game-changing aspects. That doesn’t mean that sustainable transportation advocates all support it, however.
Measure X, like most of the other county measures on November ballots, is a thirty-year ½ cent sales tax increase. It’s expected to generate almost $2.9 billion over that period of time. It comes with a plan for how to allocate the money it raises, and will require at least 2/3 of the vote to pass.
Like other local measures, it allocates funds for both transit and roads, but Measure X also has a separate allocation for “sustainable communities,” a category that includes things like complete streets pilot projects and pedestrian and bike infrastructure. It allocates a fifth of its funding for “congestion reduction,” but language in the measure specifically calls for doing so not by widening roads but by creating alternatives for drive-alone trips.
Bike East Bay, working with several other partners including Rich City Bikes, Bike Concord, and Bike Walnut Creek, is working to help pass the measure. They see big gains for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, including a robust “complete streets” program for major arterials, which includes almost $60 million for several pilot complete streets projects that will include accommodations for walking, biking, transit, and shuttles. That money will be distributed in the first five years of the measure, frontloading projects to test out concepts and show what can be done to make streets work better.
“People will realize we don’t have to widen roads to relieve congestion, and that they can be better for everyone, including drivers,” said Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director for Bike East Bay.
In addition, a separate four percent set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects, is expected to run to about $115 million. Two-thirds of that amount will go to cities, and one-third to the East Bay Regional Parks District for trails and bike access.
It’s less than advocates were hoping for, but they are willing to compromise for a reason: Measure X has strong language about accommodating all road users on “complete streets.” Read more…