As many of you have heard, VTA and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have spent much of the past year and a half researching projects and public opinion for a potential 2016 transportation sales tax ballot measure, a process and product called Envision Silicon Valley. Though the primary motivation for placing such a measure on the ballot is Phase II of the BART extension, additional revenue from the tax could provide a significant source of funding for bike, pedestrian, transit, and general roadway projects. In Alameda County, a similar tax known as Measure BB passed last year, resulting in $1 billion for bike and pedestrian projects. Think of what we could do for biking and walking with that kind of money in Santa Clara County!
SVBC has been working closely with VTA and other involved organizations to better understand the parameters of any potential ballot measure, as well as to determine how much money might become available for active transportation projects, weigh in on the goals and metrics associated with the measure, and solicit input from our members about what kinds of projects they would like to see funded. I sit on the VTA B/PAC, where VTA staff gives monthly updates on the Envision Silicon Valley process; I have also participated on the VTA advocates stakeholder group. At SVBC, each of our three Santa Clara County Local Teams have discussed the tax measure, and we dedicated our most recent Policy Advisory Committee meeting to presentations by VTA and the Leadership Group on the topic, followed by a discussion of SVBC’s priorities.
Yesterday was the due date for public agencies to submit their lists of projects to VTA. These are essentially wish lists that VTA is collecting to be considered for both the tax measure and a separate process, the Valley Transportation Plan. Projects that are approved and sent to MTC in October – to then be submitted for consideration in the Regional Transportation Plan – will provide the basis for a conversation that will involve VTA’s advisory committees, staff, advocacy groups like SVBC, and the ad-hoc committee of the VTA Board of Directors. The outcome of that discussion will be a draft expenditure plan that is expected to be deliberated throughout the winter and spring and approved next summer.
It’s a complicated process, with many requests from a vast group of stakeholders. South County needs are different from those of North County, and even car-free advocates can potentially be divided when it comes to funding bike projects, pedestrian projects, and transit out of the same finite pot. But our elected leaders have lots of time to consider competing priorities and with our thoughtful input will hopefully craft a measure that results in some much-needed cash for projects that enhance safety, give people more transportation choices, and reduce the environmental impact of getting around in Santa Clara County.
If you would like to get involved in shaping Envision Silicon Valley, head to one of our Local Teams meetings, join one of the upcoming public outreach meetings co-hosted by VTA and the Transit Justice Alliance, or simply email us using the contact form in the bottom right-hand of your screen. We want to know what you envision for Silicon Valley transportation!