Measure H Gives Us the Power to Take Charge of Our Problems
By Mayrene Bates
Recently, a friend and I were discussing how we survived so many hardships. Both of us agreed that we looked to ourselves for solutions to problems in order to move forward. We learned that it would not serve any good purpose to blame the system or play the role of victim.
Today, just ask ourselves, would we have built new schools and improved our libraries if we had stood by and said, "It's not my job?"
Measure H, the Traffic Relief and Safety Plan on the June 6 ballot, is a good example of what we need to do to move forward. We have the power to take charge of our problems. It is an investment in Solano County similar to the investment we make in our homes, businesses and community. Our aging city streets, county and state roads, and interstates are all becoming more costly to maintain while city and county governments struggle to pay for them.
Safety is another major reason to support this tax. Many of our roads pose dangerous and unacceptable risk. While bad drivers cause accidents, poor road conditions and frustration from congestion are major contributors.
Everyone knows that over the last few decades not enough federal, state and local money has been invested in transportation infrastructure. It competed with all the other government services and often lost. Like maintenance on our homes and automobiles, road maintenance cannot be deferred for too long before it requires a costly overhaul.
It's obvious that our current strategy isn't working. We are only one of two Bay Area counties without a transportation sales tax. Measure H not only puts additional money into local transportation projects, but also enables us to get matching funds from the state and federal government for improvement of our streets and roads. Most of the surrounding counties have taken advantage of matching funds and are reaping the rewards. Both state and federal policies give priority to those counties who have made investments. Our current course of refusing "self-help" status denies us much needed revenues, and also delays projects that end up costing twice as much and wasting taxpayer dollars.
Measure H will provide us with money for the Safe Routes to Schools program, money for senior and disabled programs, money for an array of local and regional street improvements, money for the preservation of mobility throughout Solano County, money for countywide safety improvements to protect our citizens and a citizens oversight committee to assure our transportation money is spent wisely.
Measure H is about taking back local control of our streets and roads rather than leaving them entirely in the hands of those in Washington, D.C., or Sacramento. Our future should not be at the mercy of outside agencies. It may not be our job, but it's not going to get done without our help.
Mayrene Bates is a lifelong educator.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
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