Contra Costa Voters Consider Transportation Measures
on September 9, 2016
Politicians aren’t the only ones vying for votes in the upcoming election. From its new headquarters in downtown Richmond, the Contra Costa Transportation Campaign is reminding voters to look beyond the list of candidates on the ballot and consider supporting three transportation measures.
Measures X, RR and C1 address different aspects of transportation in Contra Costa County, including street repair and improvement, BART and AC Transit. Each one requires two-thirds of the vote for approval.
“The main theme for all three of these is congestion is getting worse,” said Dave Campbell, advocacy director of Bike East Bay, an organization that advocates for cyclists and supports Measure X.
Measure X, the campaign’s centerpiece, is a 30-year, half-cent sales tax increase expected to generate $2.87 billion. The money will be used to fund bike-pedestrian projects, street maintenance and repairs, new BART cars and the redesign of streets to better accommodate cars, bikes and pedestrians.
With 24 percent of Measure X-generated funds marked for local street projects, 10 percent marked for street redesign and four percent for bike-pedestrian projects, Measure X would make cycling and walking in Richmond and Contra Costa County safer and a more pleasant experience, said Susan King, director of the Richmond Field Office for the campaign.
Jack Weir, president of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, said he doesn’t generally like asking “Contra Costa taxpayers to pony up additional money,” but he does support Measure X.
“We’ve looked very closely at their project plans and they’re very good, and they make sense,” Weir said.
Measure X also provides $300 million for new BART cars. Measure RR—dubbed the BART “Fix it First” bond—is a $3.5 billion bond to repair and update the 44-year-old BART system’s 90 miles of original track, leaky tunnels, track circuitry and power transmission equipment.
“It should make it much easier for people to get a train when you need one,” said Julie Pierce, a Clayton city councilmember and campaign supporter.
Measure C1 would provide a 20-year extension of the existing AC Transit parcel tax, which generates around $30 million annually for the transit system—about eight percent of its operating budget. The parcel tax helps keep fares “reasonable” and transit reliable and accessible, AC Transit Media Affairs Manager Robert Lyles said in an email.
The Contra Costa Transportation Campaign is largely funded by Bike East Bay, Rich City Rides and the Committee to Keep Contra Costa Moving Forward, a local political action committee. The campaign has around 10 full and part-time employees and “hundreds of volunteers,” Campbell said.
“We want to have a sustainable and equitable transport system,” said King. “These measures are a huge step in the right direction.”
Volunteers at the Richmond Field Office will staff phone banks in the evening to reach out to potential voters and host community events as the election draws closer, said King.
“Our goal is to really engage, engage and inform the people,” she said. “We want them to go to the polls on Nov. 8 and vote all the way down the ballot.”
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