Monday, May 08, 2006

Measure H is a Winner All Around

Measure H is a Winner All Around
By Doug Ford

It's high time for Solano County to start catching up with the rest of the Bay Area counties in improving its transportation facilities, one of the most critical elements of our infrastructure system. Our future prosperity and well-being requires that we act now to build for our future.

That's what Californians did back in what is now often called "California's Golden Age," in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Pat Brown was governor.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was trying to emulate the first Gov. Brown with the massive infrastructure building project for which he recently tried, but failed to win legislative approval. According to "California 2025: Taking on the Future," an analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California of the state's current infrastructure needs, the state highway plan adopted in 1959 is the largest public works project ever built in the United States by a single organization.

Even though only half of the project then envisioned was built, it provided the capital investment foundation for the state to grow an economy now unmatched by all but a handful of nations. It is time for us to do for the next generations what the "Greatest Generation" did for us nearly half a century ago.

We can do that for Dixon and Solano County by voting yes for Measure H on June 6. Back in the 1970s the state gasoline tax was the main source of funding for transportation improvements. But increasing fuel efficiency and the failure to adjust the tax for inflation have eroded the available funds. The gas tax now raises about one-third as much per mile driven as it did in 1970. Cuts in auto license fees by Govs. Pete Wilson and Schwarzenegger also have substantially reduced the state funding available.

In the system that has evolved in California through the past several decades, the only way that critically needed transportation projects can be funded is by passing local supplemental sales taxes, as in Measure H. Since 1978, 20 counties, including all of the Bay Area counties except Napa and Solano, have passed similar measures. Napa County has a like measure on the ballot in June.

Thanks to the leadership of Dixon Mayor Mary Ann Courville and the City Council, Dixon is ahead of other cities in Solano County in preparing for rail and other commuter services to the Bay Area and Sacramento with the grand opening of its transportation center noon today.

The largest part of the funds to be raised - 40 percent - will go to highway corridor improvements and safety projects along the interstate freeways. The biggest project, of course, will be to improve the Cordelia interchange of Interstate 80, I-680 and state Highway 12 which gives us all the shivers as it is.

High occupancy vehicle lanes - also HOV lanes or carpool lanes - will be established from Vacaville to Vallejo. Corridor and safety improvements will also be made along state Highway 12 and state Highway 113. Dixon is slated to receive $11.9 million for maintenance and repair of local streets and roads, and $7.4 million for projects to be determined by the local community. Safety projects and safe routes to schools are scheduled to receive $155 million or 10 percent of the total funding.

Federal and state governments have failed to keep up with our transportation needs for decades. The state and federal money that is available is allotted as matching funds to those communities who exercise local initiatives like Measure H. The money raised by Measure H will be spent 100 percent in the county and will create jobs for 30 years.

Measure H is a winner for Dixon, Solano County, and all of California. We can create a new golden era for coming generations to look back upon with admiration. I urge everyone to get out to the new train station and join in the fun today.

The author lives in Dixon and serves on the Solano County Board of Education.

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