Transit projects would get $7.5 billion from the sales tax increase over 40 years. Courtesy SANDAG

The mayors of three cities appealed to voters Monday to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to fund $18 billion in transit, bicycle, pedestrian and environmental projects over 40 years.

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, National City Mayor Ron Morrison, and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina met with reporters to endorse a ballot measure that would increase the sales tax throughout San Diego County.

“This measure would provide the funds needed to build a major new trolley line from the international border, up along Interstate 805 through Chula Vista, and on to Kearny Mesa,” Salas said. “Without this measure, that project will not get done — or, at best, it will be done several decades from now.”

Since 1987, San Diego County residents have paid a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects under the TransNet program. The proposed ballot measure would add another half cent.

Officials said the tax would provide an extra $7.5 billion for transit, $4.3 billion for local projects, $2.5 billion for carpool lanes, $2 billion for preserving open space, $1 billion for road improvements and $540 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

“This measure will bring real benefits to my community and to our environment as a whole,” Dedina said. “More frequent trolley service. More rapid transit. More open space. And funds my city council can put to use on things like protecting our coast.”

The ballot measure is being drawn up by the San Diego Association of Governments, which manages the TransNet program, for placement on the November ballot. It will require two-thirds approval of voters countywide to pass.

“We need to provide more choices for how people get around this region to stop and reverse the devastating effects of climate change on our environment,” said San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria, chair of the SANDAG Transportation Committee.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.