January 15, 2018
January 15, 2018
By: Colin Parent
Every city and county in California is getting an injection of funding to fix potholes, repair sidewalks, and invest in public transportation, thanks to a new law – Senate Bill 1 (SB 1).
Already, activity is underway to repair unsafe roads and bridges, to fix potholes and crumbling roads, to grow our economy, and to invest in transit and active transportation projects.
Transportation is a key driver of our regional economy. Not only will the projects that SB 1 funds create new good-paying jobs, but transportation projects are key to connecting workers and employers, and to growing our economy. Goods coming in and out of the Port of San Diego need safe and well-maintained infrastructure to travel to local and distant stores and workers rely on local roads, highways and transit to get them to and from work.
Reject Repeal Efforts
Unfortunately, efforts are underway to qualify a ballot measure for November 2018 to repeal this new law. Local radio host Carl DeMaio has been holding events in San Diego, running ads (featuring himself prominently) and using his radio show to promote signature-gathering events to qualify the initiative. DeMaio has had a mixed record on his ballot measure efforts, but SB 1 is too important to leave undefended.
Unless rejected, this ballot measure would rob the San Diego region of critical funding we need to fix our local roads and highways. We need to reject those efforts.
Locally, SB 1 is estimated to bring more than $1.4 billion to San Diego County and every city within the county over the next ten years to fund critical local projects. Now with the SB 1 funding, work can begin work on the following projects:
- A project to repair and replace pavement on nearly 50 lane miles of State Route 125 from La Mesa to Santee
- A project to install signals, ramp metering and message signs to improve traffic congestion on Interstate 5 from San Diego to Oceanside.
- Safe pedestrian routes to schools will be enhanced in El Cajon, National City, Imperial Beach, and Encinitas and improved bike lanes in Chula Vista.
- In my own city of La Mesa, we are using SB 1 funding to develop a Complete Streets policy, so that every time we resurface a street with sufficient width, we’ll also include bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
But it isn’t just local roads and highways that will benefit, San Diegans will benefit from improved air quality. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) will use SB 1 funds to increase bus and Tolley service, and fund electric bus pilot program which will help reduce emissions in the San Diego region. Ultimately, SB 1 funding will help MTS change its entire bus fleet to zero emission.
Equally important as the projects themselves, is giving voters confidence that SB 1 funding will not be misused or misdirected.
In June 2018 voters will have the chance to pass a constitutional amendment that will prevent the legislature from ever using these new funds for non-transportation projects. SB 1 also includes strict accountability provisions to ensure these funds are spent responsibly and to reduce bureaucracy and waste.
SB 1 will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs around the state and in San Diego, as people get to work on construction projects that will improve our commutes and our lives.
Bad roads, traffic congestion and limited mobility choices are bad for our health and bad for our pocketbooks. Each year, Californians pay $762 in additional vehicle repair costs because of poor road conditions. With direct investments guaranteed for San Diego County, we can be assured that all commuters will benefit from the road repair and transit projects made possible by SB 1.
Finally, relief is coming. Let’s not go in reverse and eliminate critical transportation projects from our communities. Reject efforts to repeal SB 1.
Updates on all state and local projects funded by SB 1 can be found at http://rebuildingca.ca.gov/map.html
Colin Parent is executive director and general counsel of Circulate San Diego and a City Councilmember of La Mesa.