Plan to fund transportation improvements placed on November ballot

Published on July 12, 2016

A ballot measure to increase retail sales tax by a half percent to raise funds for transportation improvements in Placer County was placed on the Nov. 8, 2016, presidential general election ballot today by the county board of supervisors.

The proposed measure, if approved by two-thirds of county voters, would be in effect for 30 years and would raise about $1.6 billion to fund highway projects, public transit expansion, local street maintenance and improvements and other projects in both suburban and rural areas of the county.

The board’s action was requested by Placer County Transportation Planning Agency and supports plans to improve area roadways to relieve both existing and future traffic and congestion and to improve public transportation.

District 4 Supervisor Kirk Uhler, who sits on the Transportation Planning Agency Board, explained his recent change of position to support the measure.

"The vast majority of the money raised from this tax will go to fix state and federal highways which they simply are no longer paying for. It has been over a decade since we have received any money from the state or feds for any improvements to their roadways in Placer County," said Uhler. "We are on our own." Uhler added, "Just saying ‘no’ is not an option anymore. To those who would oppose this, I offer this challenge: If not this, then what? I’ve spent the last four years looking for a solution other than this and I can’t find one.”

Currently, PCTPA uses gasoline tax and federal and state funding for transportation infrastructure. Developer-paid traffic impact fees also contribute to future infrastructure needs. PCTPA estimates that over the next three decades, $3.5 billion will be needed to fund priority transportation projects. Existing funding mechanisms will only provide about $1.4 billion.

“If you’re for economic development, you do things that spur economic development,” said District 1 Supervisor Jack Duran.

The ballot item is supported by each of the incorporated city and town councils in Placer County. In addition, in June, the board approved the measure’s draft expenditure plan and the agency, acting as the Placer County Local Transportation Authority, approved the ordinance that allowed the measure to be presented to the board for inclusion on the November ballot.

The PCTPA estimates that over the next 30 years, the county will add 70,000 new homes, 180,000 additional residents and 32 million additional square feet of commercial and office space. The proposal would include highway and interstate improvements, with a significant amount of revenue going to local road improvements in unincorporated areas of the county. A full 3 percent of the tax revenues would be earmarked for improvements in the North Lake Tahoe area. Funding for improvements to bicycle and pedestrian trails would also be included.

View information on the plan and its proposed projects.