By Kevin Reed
Our infrastructure statewide is in disrepair and San Diego residents feel it every day on their commute. Measure A on the November ballot will fund urgently needed road repair, transportation maintenance, improvements and new projects.
Measure A, called the San Diego County Road Repair, Transit, Traffic Relief, Safety and Water Quality measure, is a well-rounded sustainable funding plan that addresses the county’s most pressing concerns. Not only does measure A fund projects to reduce traffic congestion, it cleans up polluted water runoff, preserves open space, and fills potholes. With two-thirds approval needed to pass, every vote will count.
Our crumbling roads continue to take a toll on San Diego residents — both mentally and fiscally. The hours wasted in gridlock are measurable: drivers lose 42 hours — a full work week — annually to congestion, according to TRIP, a transportation research organization. TRIP also reports that Californians lose $54.6 billion annually due to roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or unsafe. In San Diego, that translates to $1,858 per motorist per year.
If these deficiencies are not adequately addressed, we will continue to experience longer delays, greater frustration, and exponentially higher costs to repair or replace existing infrastructure. Transportation is our county’s lifeline and a need for every single resident, thus inaction is not an option.
Measure A’s half-cent sales tax increase to fund mobility programs for everyone is a bold step forward. Not only is this a solid investment in our transit infrastructure, but it could potentially prevent the level of gridlock experienced in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The proposed measure is anticipated to provide $18 billion over four decades to pay for transportation projects in San Diego County. Having these local funds will allow San Diego Association of Governments, the regional planning agency better known as SANDAG, to start projects early and leverage billions more in additional funding from state and federal sources, dollars that will go to other counties in the state if we do not have matching local funds.
To accelerate progress, the measure has identified a list of priority projects to be completed within 15 years, including several highway and local road improvements, additional Rapid Bus service, a new Purple Line Trolley, and more frequent trolley service on existing routes. SANDAG would be committed to completing more than two dozen high priority highway and transit projects within the 15-year deadline, which is a higher standard than in other California counties.
Measure A offers a solid, sensible plan designed to enhance transit and active transportation to benefit everyone in our region with increased mobility, more options, cleaner air, good jobs and continued economic growth.
San Diegans can be assured their investment stays local, provides accountability, leverages current and future funds for maximum benefits, and achieves significant transportation improvements now and into the future. Let’s keep San Diego moving in the right direction by making clean and efficient transportation a top priority, and support the funding necessary to make it a reality.
Kevin Reed is an engineer and associate vice president in the San Diego office of HNTB Corporation. HNTB is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm that provides architecture, engineering, planning and construction services.