Promises Made Should Be Promises Kept
By Jim Holmes, guest columnist
On June 27, representatives of state and local agencies, city and county officials, and community leaders joined together in Lincoln to celebrate the achievement of a transportation goal that has been over 30 years in the making.
The groundbreaking of the State Route 65 Lincoln Bypass, which was a special day for all involved, memorialized the years of hard work and dedication that it has taken to make the bypass a reality.
To my dismay, no sooner did the dust settle from the groundbreaking, than news of potential funding withdrawal began to circulate.
About two-thirds of the funding for the Lincoln Bypass comes from funding generated by Proposition 42, which directs the sales tax on gasoline and diesel fuel in California to be spent on transportation infrastructure improvements. The state of California is seriously considering rescinding these funds, totaling $1.43 billion statewide, to help alleviate the state budget deficit. This last-minute move would be an absolute slap in the face to the voters of California who twice voted to secure this funding for desperately needed road and transit improvements.
Without the promised funding, the Lincoln Bypass will be delayed for at least three years, the cost of the project will increase, and the construction companies and workers who have been contracted will be left without work, to say nothing of the loss to local businesses that have made business plans contingent on the bypass.
In Placer County, transportation plays a key role in the economic livelihood and quality of life for people in the region. The aggravating 40-plus minutes it takes to drive through Lincoln during peak time is only the start of the problem. Traffic congestion makes simple errands burdensome and negatively impacts local businesses. It increases hazardous emissions that, in turn, deteriorate air quality. Moreover, delays and congestion negatively impact the transportation of goods through Placer County. Truckers stuck in stop and go traffic use more fuel, which increases costs and drives up the price of goods.
California Transportation Commission member, Jim Earp, a Placer County resident, has led the charge against the recent efforts of the state to bypass the will of the voters. Unfortunately, this may not be enough. It is apparent that the state of California cannot be relied on to provide money for transportation infrastructure improvements. Placer County residents, businesses and community leaders must work together to create our own source of funding for transportation projects.
Now, more than ever, we need to unite to protect the funds promised to Placer County for the creation of the Lincoln Bypass. Placer residents have been patiently waiting and advocating for this funding to improve local infrastructure and deserve to have their votes respected. State leaders must be reminded that investing in infrastructure projects puts people to work, infuses the economy, and stimulates growth.
Please contact your elected state assembly members and senators to voice your concerns about the potential loss of Proposition 42 funds.
Placer County residents, please remember how easy it is for the state to threaten to rescind promised funds. Perhaps it is time to move toward a locally controlled source of funding for transportation infrastructure.
Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes is county Transportation Planning Agency chairman.