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VTA Board Considers Transportation Sales Tax for November Ballot

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After an information packed and well attended workshop, VTA Board members, transportation advocates and community stakeholders walked away with a list of categories that identified transportation projects which could best improve mobility in Santa Clara County. The board will vote in June whether or not to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the November 2016 ballot to help fund transportation improvements as follows:

  • BART Phase II at $1.5 billion
  • Bicycle/Pedestrian Program at $250 million
  • Caltrain Capacity Improvements at $300 million
  • Caltrain Grade Separations at $700 million
  • County Expressways at $750 million
  • Highway Interchanges at $750 million
  • Local Streets and Roads at $1.2 billion
  • SR 85 Corridor at $350 million
  • Transit Operations at $500 million
An extensive, 18-month public outreach process known as Envision Silicon Valley gathered input and suggestions on transportation needs from transportation professionals, stakeholder groups and community organizations as well as the public throughout the county.

Formal community meetings were amplified by an online information presence through an interactive microsite while a text messaging survey helped educate the public about transportation needs and provided staff with feedback about how the community would prioritize investments. Staff reported that there was significant consensus among the various groups over the past 18 months.

Although the entire list of projects in the recommended categories exceeds the thirty year funding available, staff recommends leveraging these potential local funds to gain sponsor contributions (state, federal, regional and private sources) to assist with the funding shortfalls. Another recommendation was to establish the categories as percentages to provide equity among projects should revenues fall short of estimates.

Advice received from Carl Guardino, President/CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and driving force behind the effort to gauge voter support was clear: “Stay conservative in your revenue estimates, stay committed to a system-wide approach, stay specific in the use of our tax payers’ dollars, and stay true to our values.”

Prior to the June board meeting, VTA will seek more community input in another series of public meetings. “Staff will go out with the feedback from us and talk to the public about what they think about the plan we have had a chance to look at,” stated VTA Board Chair and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “Our objective is to get to adoption on June 2. At some point we have to put our stake in the ground and stop meeting and start acting.”

At the June 2, 2016 meeting the VTA Board of Directors will be asked to place a potential sales tax measure before the voters on November 8, 2016.  The measure will require a 2/3 voter majority to pass.

“I really want to thank everyone who came out from the public, not just today, but over the many months that has given us an awful lot of input from members of the public about the fundamental needs in our county to improve mobility,” stated Sam Liccardo, San Jose Mayor and VTA Board member. “What we have come up with is a comprehensive and collaborative result that’s going to really improve mobility for the county and the decades ahead.”

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