OPINION – In the shadow of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, we, as Sacramentans, need tangible solutions to jumpstart our economy. One such solution that has presented itself is our chance to invest in rebuilding our dilapidated and antiquated transportation system. Creating more and better jobs should be part of any plan to make this a better place for our families and future generations.
Measure A is being considered for a vote in November in Sacramento County. If included on the ballot and approved by voters, Measure A will address worsening traffic congestion, deteriorating roads and underfunded transit that have created hardships for all of us who drive, take a bus or ride light rail. Especially impacted are the elderly, disabled, students, low income residents and others whose lives and livelihoods depend on an efficient and safe public transportation system.
The Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) estimates that Measure A will generate $8.4 billion in revenues over 40 years. Funds will go toward improving local streets and roads, reducing highway congestion and upgrading transit service. Bicycle paths and walkways will also be expanded and improved. And there will be investment to help fight climate change.
Measure A, however, will do more than improve our transportation system. It will be a major driver of jobs and growth — at a time when we need strong stimulus to help overcome COVID-19’s devastating impact on businesses, from the corner barbershop to the big manufacturing plant.
In the first year alone, the STA estimates that Measure A will produce $127 million in new spending for Sacramento County. Experts at University of the Pacific’s Center for Business & Policy Research estimate that Measure A will have a dramatic impact on income and jobs. Over 40 years, the Pacific experts say Measure A will bring in over $13 billion in state and federal matching funds; support over 120,000 direct and indirect jobs; generate $9.2 billion in labor income; and create more than $21 billion in total economic output for the local economy.
The STA Board and all of the local jurisdictions in the county have approved the Measure A Expenditure Plan. In July, the Board of Supervisors will decide whether to place Measure A on the November ballot.
With all the challenges we face as a nation, state, county and community, investing in our transportation future may seem like a low priority. It’s not.
The enormity of other issues doesn’t diminish the importance of meeting this challenge. If they have the opportunity, voters must make a choice in November about what kind of transportation system they want. Do they want to invest in road and transit improvements and major job-creating projects? Or will they choose to stand on the sidelines as our roads and bus and rail systems decline? It’s a clear choice.
By Josh Wood
Josh Wood is CEO of Sacramento Region Business Association.