The Elk Grove City Council on April 8 unanimously voted to support a resolution for a 40-year, $8.4-billion Measure A transportation expenditure plan.
This effort, which is led by the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA), is aimed at creating thousands of miles of new bicycle and pedestrian trails, fixing potholes, improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gases, and decreasing traffic congestion across Sacramento County, including Elk Grove.
The council’s vote came three weeks after the STA Board of Directors voted, 13-3, to tentatively adopt the plan, which would, upon the approval of voters, increase countywide sales taxes by a half-cent.
The current countywide half-cent sales tax measure has been in effect since 2009 and expires in 2039.
Elk Grove City Council Member Darren Suen, who also serves as chair of the STA Board, said that the plan could help stimulate the local economy.
”If approved, this measure could be a much-needed local economic stimulus – immediately generating road, freeway, transit infrastructure work to occur,” he said.
As part of the process of moving the expenditure plan forward, the law requires that the plan should be supported by most city councils representing a majority of the county’s incorporated population.
As of press time, the city councils of Sacramento (9-0), Galt (4-1) and Citrus Heights (3-2) also approved the expenditure plan. The cities of Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Isleton will also hear the plan.
At the STA board’s April 9 meeting, the ordinance and its revisions were introduced and approved by a vote of 11-5.
The ordinance will again be heard for its second reading at the board’s May 14 meeting. If approved by a two-thirds (11-5) minimum vote, the STA board will forward the measure to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, which would decide whether to place Measure A on the November ballot. The supervisors’ vote on this matter is scheduled to take place on Aug. 7.
If this measure is placed on the ballot, then it would need at least two-thirds of the votes in order to pass.
During the April 8 council meeting, an overview of the expenditure plan was presented.
The plan is divided into 10 categories of funding, with the greatest amount of dollars - $4 billion – being designated for local streets and roads. A chart shown in the meeting recognizes 48% of the funding as being marked for that category.
Also among the categories on the chart are congestion relief improvements (25%) and Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) maintenance, operations and transformative system improvements (22%).
A city staff report notes that Elk Grove could only benefit from the $1.7 billion SacRT funding, if the city annexes into the district’s service area.
If Measure A is approved by voters, Elk Grove could receive $348 million for its street repairs and transformative system improvements.
The local projects that are available to benefit from Measure A funding include the widening, rebuilding and extending of Kammerer Road, the construction of citywide complete street improvements, and the implementation of the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Master Plan, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The staff report identifies that the plan includes $71.4 million in funding for the Whitelock Parkway/Highway 99 interchange, and congestion relief on Elk Grove Boulevard and Laguna Boulevard/Bond Road.
It is also mentioned in the report that the plan includes $485 million for a variety of transit projects, including the light rail extensions in Elk Grove and Folsom.
Ali Moua, who will challenge Suen in this November’s City Council District 1 election, submitted a public comment in which he encouraged the council to vote against the expenditure plan.
“Entertaining any ideas to raise revenues from residents whose income has been affected during a time of economic instability would be irresponsible and a recipe for fiscal disaster,” he wrote.
With the current situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), STA Executive Director Will Kempton addressed the timing of the project, which has been a year-and-a-half-long process.
“Our overall effort began with the goal of planning for the future of Sacramento County and we believe we should continue to take the steps to move closer to that goal, not in spite of, but because of the current situation,” he said.
“While at some point it may be necessary to set aside this effort, we know that large scale infrastructure can have a very positive impact on the economy.”
Kempton also expressed appreciation for the assistance of Council Members Suen and Pat Hume, who both serve on the STA board.
“(They) have done a great job and have been instrumental in helping us develop an expenditure plan, which I think is really an effective document,” he said.