Monday, May 22, 2006

Yes on Measure H: Initiative Will Benefit Solano County

Yes on Measure H: Initiative Will Benefit Solano County
By Len Augustine

A rare opportunity exists to make a positive change in our community's transportation system. It's likely each of us has experienced the congestion on our highways, potholes on our roads, lost time in traffic jams, and wasted fuel waiting in the heavy commuter traffic. The safety of our roads is a real concern to most of us, as well.

Issues such as the transportation needs of seniors and the disabled require funding and action now. Safe routes to schools is one of our top priorities. Reducing response times for public safety officials is essential. The impact on our lives in and around Vacaville cannot be overstated.

Hoping, pleading and cajoling for federal and state dollars to fix our transportation shortcomings - without providing matching funds - have not been successful. The amount of money necessary to get the job done far exceeds the available resources we foresee coming to Solano County. Construction costs are escalating rapidly. Procrastination in approving measures to provide matching funds has been counterproductive.

All of the projects will cost considerably more money in the future. They will still be needed, but the costs will surge out of reach.

We must get on with the design work as soon as possible and be ready to go out for bids. Having the projects ready to go is essential in obtaining funding and, of course, design work is costly, as well.

An independent oversight committee comprised of 11 citizens will be in place to ensure that funds are spent in accordance with the Traffic Relief and Safety Plan for Solano County. There will be an annual fiscal, compliance and performance audit. The Solano Transportation Authority, our local transportation agency, will administer the contracts. The STA meets monthly in an open forum and citizen participation is encouraged.

Measure H, the proposed half-cent transportation sales tax on the June ballot, will go a long way toward addressing the most critical transportation improvements. The longer we are delayed, the more costly it all becomes.

Measure H is an investment that will provide benefits to most everyone. The return to source funded projects will be clearly seen early on with some communities able to accomplish maintenance and repair sooner than they are currently capable of doing. Alternative modes of transportation were clearly seen as job-savers after the Loma Prieta earthquake.

And speaking of jobs, companies and businesses looking to bring jobs to Vacaville expect good roads and viable transportation alternatives to be in place. There is strong support from the major employers and business community, councils, labor organizations, public safety, environmentalists, schools, commuters, health community and many others.

The plan is a very good one. There has never been a more united effort in Solano County to make such a huge difference in the quality of life in our daily lives. The opportunity is here now to zero in on the issue before us.

All of the rationale for rejecting Measure H has been off target. That's because the need to pass Measure H is obvious. There is no alternative to moving forward.

I urge everyone to review the plan for themself. I am convinced that the future safety, our growing economy, our neighborhoods and our quality of life in Vacaville must not be compromised because of inaction.

It's our choice.

I am voting yes on Measure H.

• The author is the mayor of Vacaville and the chairman of the Solano Transportation Authority.

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