Mid-Year Policy Review: Whither Traffic?

Six months into 2018, have our policymakers helped or hurt Silicon Valley’s regional competitiveness?  Um, Yes.

We’ll take on this policy update through a series of posts in the coming days, all focused on areas where the SVCIP has called for change.  Today’s topic:  transportation – and it’s largely happy news.  Even if commuters don’t yet feel it, we’ve seen enormous progress in the first half of the year, though the next six months might not be as rosy.

The progress starts with the BART extension to downtown San José, which hit several key milestones.  In April, the California State Transportation Agency announced $730M in funding from Senate Bill 1, the state transportation infrastructure package signed into law by Governor Brown in 2017 after a bruising fight in the legislature.  Then last month, the Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision for the project – a critical step in securing the $1.5B in federal funds needed for the project.

These decisions set the stage for Bay Area voters’ approval of Regional Measure 3 on June 5th, which will raise approximately $4.5B over 30 years for regional transportation improvements – including funding to refurbish Diridon Station in preparation for BART’s arrival, and to purchase new BART cars.  The Silicon Valley Leadership Group co-led the effort, with the Bay Area Council and SPUR. Silicon Valley Community Foundation endorsed the measure and supported campaign efforts.

This is all good. But looming on the horizon is a threat to Senate Bill 1, the transportation package referenced above.  Signatures are being gathered for a referendum on the measure, which will likely appear on the November 2018 ballot.  At risk:  $5B annually dedicated to maintenance of our state’s aging transportation infrastructure.  If you like potholes, this is the measure for you.

Coming up:  Housing (Fits and) Starts