Why Hilltromper is supporting Measure D, the transportation ballot measure for Santa Cruz County.
Oct. 31, 2016—We support Measure D because, in addition to giving some crucial transportation projects a big push forward, it is the most environmentally sustainable plan of its kind in the state*.
Here are the top six reasons we are pleased to support Measure D.
1: Make Neighborhoods Safer—and More Fun!
The biggest single chunk of money from this 30-year, $500 million sales tax goes to neighborhood projects. We're talking more than $150 million for repaired potholes, miles and miles of bike lanes, even a couple bike/ped bridges over Highway 1. How cool is infrastructure?! Doesn't it just make your civic heart swell?
Much of this money is being directed to roads around schools. So expect to see a lot more kids on bikes and a lot fewer parents schlepping them around in cars. The children of today and the children of the future thank you. And so do their parents, aunts and uncles.
2. A Bicycle Highway from One End of The County to the Other.
Our friends at Land Trust of Santa Cruz County have already been working for a couple years on a 32-mile car-less roadway from Watsonville to Davenport. The Coastal Rail Trail will revolutionize the way we get around in the county. It’s perfect that it follows the railroad tracks, since all of the cities up and down the county were—hello!—built around the train. An estimated $85 million from Measure D, combined with the money Land Trust has raised and/or committed, will mean the whole big awesome project will be two-thirds funded. Bonus: Measure D will also fund a $10 million study of how to best utilize the corridor for possible future smart-rail service.
3. Survival for Mountain Lions; Fewer Dead Deer.
We have been documenting the fascinating biological reasons why our mountain lion neighbors must have a way to get past Highway 17, which now artificially limits their territory. The wildlife tunnel (another Land Trust project, which, BTW, Caltrans agreed to help fund just last week), will solve the big cats’ big evolutionary problems, and also save the lives of hundreds of deer. It will also make Highway 17 safer for drivers. Measure D provides $5 million to the tunnel so…yes.
4. Much-Needed Help for Metro and Lift Line.
Admittedly, we wish this measure delivered more money to Santa Cruz's suffering mass transit system. But the $100 million that the measure does deliver—20 percent of the total—will make a huge difference. The $20 million dedicated to Lift Line will help our neighbors who need it most.
5. All Of Our Friends (Except One) Support Measure D.
Here at Hilltromper HQ, your faithful scribes have been studying, writing about and advocating for local progressive social and environmental causes for almost 20 years. Over that time we have made a lot of friends, who, to be honest, do not always agree on everything. In this case they have all decided to pull in the same direction. The list of Measure D supporters is so long, reciting it becomes tedious and then a little bit funny.
The handful of opponents (hi, Micah) say we should wait two years, or four years, and then pass a measure that excludes highway funding, therefore satisfying one rigid ideological demand. A: We don't want to wait. B: Their ideologically pure measure will never, ever pass.
6. We Actually Have No Problem With Getting Some Traffic Relief on Highway 1.
Granted, the modest lane expansion in this proposal is only going to provide slight relief. We'll take it.
* Update (11/3/16): Between the Rail Trail and bike/pedestrian bridges, Measure D allocates 18.4% of its funding to bicycles—more than any of the other 14 transportation ballot measures in the state. The closest contenders are San Luis Obispo County (14%) and San Francisco (12%). Take that, San Francisco!