COMMENTARY by CATHERINE BLAKESPEAR - San Diego County’s roads need help. There’s already a solution on the table. Let’s come together to support Senate Bill 1 and reject all efforts to go backward on transportation funding.
There are those who want to repeal this important road repair bill. If this happens, our region would lose hundreds of millions of dollars specifically dedicated to reducing traffic congestion, improving road and bridge safety, and fixing dilapidated roads all over our region.
The San Diego region is home to some of the worst roads in the nation, according to TRIP, a national transportation research group. Nearly half (46 percent) of San Diego-area roads are rated in poor condition. Motorists here pay an extra $722 each year to maintain our vehicles due to the poor condition of local roads. Bad roads increase traffic congestion, keep us sitting in traffic longer and reflect poorly on our region.
We can do better.
Unfortunately, a poorly conceived ballot initiative to repeal SB 1 would make our roads — and our lives — even worse. If this repeal effort passes, the San Diego region would be robbed of hundreds of millions of dollars that will go toward fixing local roads, reducing traffic congestion, removing litter, making bridge and road safety improvements and funding biking and walking projects.
The initiative is not on the ballot yet and supporters of SB 1 are hoping to keep it that way.
I, along with other drivers who are fed up, hope to stop this ballot measure from moving any further.
For decades, political leaders in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento did not prioritize the infrastructure underlying our transportation systems. As a result, our roads deteriorated, traffic congestion worsened and local streets became less safe.
Finally, in April 2017, state elected leaders came together in Sacramento and passed Senate Bill 1 — the Road Repair and Accountability Act — which will provide billions in new funding every year for road improvements. We need this funding to move forward with multi-modal mobility projects that would improve our lives.
The package comes with strict accountability requirements to ensure the money goes only for transportation projects, and to streamline projects by cutting bureaucratic redundancies and red tape. SB 1 also ensures transportation funding that was redirected during the recession is paid back to be used on road projects.
And the measure guarantees funds for every community, so every city and county in the state will receive money to improve local streets and roads.
The transportation package will bring close to $40 million annually to San Diego County, $30 million each year for the city of San Diego, and millions more for every city in the San Diego region.
For instance, San Diego County and the cities of Oceanside, Vista, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Solana Beach and my city, Encinitas, have planned or proposed dozens of road improvement projects, along with more sidewalks, crosswalks and pavement without potholes. This funding stream will improve hundreds of miles of local streets and roads.
Caltrans has already announced it will use the funding to make traffic congestion relief and road safety improvements along Interstate 5 from San Diego to Oceanside, and pavement improvements to fix pockmarked asphalt along 14 miles of Interstate 805. Some of the money will also be available for better trash clean-up, which is sorely needed in all our communities, as the eyesore of litter continues to degrade the overall driving experience.
If this funding is repealed, these projects will not happen.
Furthermore, a provision in the ballot initiative would paralyze future road construction funding from ever being passed — leading to more political gridlock and more gridlock on our roads and freeways.
We supporters of SB 1 urge opponents to put safe and improved roads over politics and avoid raiding the local road repair fund. We strongly urge them to abandon this destructive ballot measure.
We want higher quality roads in this region. This funding stream will make that possible. Reject any repeal of SB 1.
Blakespear is mayor of the city of Encinitas.