Santa Clara County Measure B Transportation Tax
With the passage of Santa Clara County’s Measure B transportation sales tax last year, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will receive over $6 billion in revenue over the next thirty years beginning in June, 2017. Four percent of those funds, or an estimated $8 million per year in 2017 dollars, will be available for bike and pedestrian programs.
Measure B funds will be a big pot of money which VTA will divvy out as grants to other public agencies within Santa Clara County. VTA began the process of developing guidelines for these bike / ped program grants, and they invite public input on their draft guidelines.
$250 million over 30 years for bicycle / pedestrian programs
The Bicycle & Pedestrian Program will fund bicycle/pedestrian projects and programs of countywide significance that are contained in the 2016 Measure B resolution. In their draft guidelines, VTA recommends a competitive grant program with three categories: education & encouragement programs (up to 15%), planning projects (up to 5%) and capital projects (at least 80%). The grants will be awarded every two years. The scoring will be done by a committee of three BPAC members, three member agency staff, and one VTA staff person.
Projects must be of “countywide significance”; create connections that serve schools, transit or employment centers; fill gaps in the transportation network; provide safer crossings of barriers; make walking or biking safer; or make walking or biking more convenient.
Other criteria to be considered in scoring include safety benefits; community support; project readiness; serving Communities of Concern; and safety benefits.
How can you provide input?
The final recommendations will be drafted in May, with Board approval expected in June. Your opportunity for input on these guidelines takes place next week at these meetings:
- The VTA Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meets on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 1:30 PM in Conference Room B-106 at VTA Headquarters. The TAC consists of transportation staff from each of the 15 cities in Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County, and other local government jurisdictions. They meet to discuss the technical aspects of transportation policy. The Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Plan is the first regular agenda item after the public speaking time, reports, and consent agenda items.
- The VTA Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets the evening of Wednesday, February 8, 2017 beginning at 6:30 P.M. in VTA Conference Room B-106. The Measure B Bicycle Program Plan is first on the Regular Agenda, so you’ll want to be one time.
- The VTA Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) meets Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 4 P.M in Conference Room B-104 at VTA Headquarters. City council members from each of the 15 cities in Santa Clara County and a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors use this committee to provide their input on VTA policies. After public presentations, staff reports, and the consent agenda, the Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Plan is third on the regular agenda after an informational item on the VTA Next Network plan, and Measure B Caltrain Program plan discussion.
VTA headquarters is located at 3331 North First Street, San Jose, CA and is served by the River Oaks Light Rail Station, which has a train every six to eight minutes. For the daytime meetings, you can also consider VTA bus 58. Ample and free car parking is, of course, available. BikeLink electronic lockers are also available in the VTA parking lot near near the light rail station.
Public comments are limited to two minutes. Even if you support the draft guidelines, it’s good to register your support with the Policy Committee so your elected officials know you’re paying attention. If you can’t make the meeting, you can send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to mention you’d like your comments directed to the appropriate committee. You can also call (408) 321-5680 before the meeting to add your thoughts to the public record.
My quick thought
I think I’d like to add a guideline to ensure projects designed to increase motor vehicle speed or capacity aren’t eligible for funding from the bike / ped program pot. “Capacity improvement” projects sometimes slip through as safety improvements for cyclists, under the discredited theory that frustrated drivers stuck in traffic caused by cars will take their rage out on passing cyclists.
The Measure B half-cent sales tax will generate an estimated $6 billion to $6.5 billion of revenue for VTA over the next 30 years. This money will be divided to nine different program areas: $1.5B for BART Silicon Valley Phase II, $314M for Caltrain Corridor capacity improvements, $750M to county expressways, $1.2B for local street maintenance (which, incidentally, includes a Complete Streets requirement), $500M for transit operations, $250M for the bike/ped program we’re talking about here, $700M for Caltrain grade separation, $750 to redo highway interchanges (partly to increase capacity, but these interchanges will also incorporate new designs that improve safety for walkers and cyclists), and $350M for the controversial Highway 85 congestion relief project.