San Jose has released its wish list of projects for a 30-year half-cent sales tax measure slated for the fall ballot. On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss the proposal, which includes suggested allocations for $6 billion in expected revenue.
Under the plan up for review, $1.8 billion would pay for local street repairs for all of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) member agencies. That would pull in about $29 million a year for San Jose alone, addressing one-third of the city’s street maintenance shortfall.
Another $1.5 billion could close bring BART to San Jose’s Diridon Station, closing the final gap in the railway’s Silicon Valley extension.
The city has also proposed spending $650 million countywide—but about half for San Jose—on highway expansion to ease traffic congestion. Another $400 million could help bridge gaps in pedestrian, bicycle and trail networks.
Conspicuously absent from San Jose’s set of priorities: improvements to Caltrain and VTA bus service. Green Caltrain, a transportation advocacy group, pointed that out in a blog this morning, noting that San Jose could do more to reach its goal of reducing single-occupant car trips.
“The staff report advises the City Council to wait until the next stage of evaluation of transportation projects through the [VTA's planning] process before making specific recommendations on amounts for additional project categories,” according to the blog. “And the staff report leaves some funding unallocated for other priorities. But City Council shouldn’t wait to express its priorities and should speak up for Caltrain and a complete transit network now.”
The VTA and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group began planning for a new sales tax measure in spring of 2014. The measure slated for the November 2016 ballot would disburse revenue among 15 cities and raise Santa Clara County’s sales tax to 9.25 percent.
The measure needs a two-thirds majority to pass. County voters have approved every transportation tax since the 1970s, including two since 2000 to fund the South Bay BART connection.
A decades-long lack of investment in transportation has led to a statewide $58 billion shortfall for local road repairs. State and federal gas taxes haven’t changed in more than two decades, which has pushed the responsibility of raising money down to counties.
Meanwhile, congestion continues to worsen, especially in the South Bay where commuters spend hours on the road each day. According to a December report by the Metropolitan Commission on Transportation, three of the 10 most congested commutes in the Bay Area lie in the South Bay.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for February 9, 2016:
- San Jose may waive fees and pay for marketing for Air Canada to help offset the cost of new service from Vancouver to Mineta San Jose International Airport.
- Bob Schmelzer, the owner of Circle-A skate shop, wants to add a café to his Paseo de San Antonio storefront.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260