Gilroy residents can learn more about a possible half-cent sales tax measure to fund countywide transportation at a public meeting Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at Gilroy City Hall.
The first in a series to be held in the county throughout the month, attendees will have an opportunity to provide input on the transportation projects and programs that have been identified through the Envision Silicon Valley process, an effort started last year by Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority.
Under the aegis of Envision Silicon Valley, Gilroy and the 15 other jurisdictions of the VTA identified approximately $47 billion in transportation projects they want to see funded through a possible sales tax measure for the November ballot.
“This is a good opportunity for people who want to know more and talk with the VTA and see the plan,” said Mayor Perry Woodward, who is a member of the VTA Board.
“If there is a project that folks want to see on this ballot measure, that isn’t on it, or something is on it they feel shouldn’t be on it, this is your opportunity to come and be heard.”
The proposed half-cent sales tax measure would be for 30 years and go towards easing congestion in the region.
“We are sending 12,000-14,000 commuters into Silicon Valley each day to work—five of the seven City Council members included—and the congestion is terrible, and this will help deal with that,” said Woodward.
“It’s important from a quality-of-life standpoint for our residents, but it is also important for the economic vitality of South County,” he continued. “If something is not done, and it takes two hours to get to Silicon Valley, then we are like Los Banos or King City, in terms of our travel time. That would be a very negative thing to our economic development.”
The potential sales tax measure would help fund projects both big and small, including Phase 2 of the BART extension into Santa Clara and downtown San Jose, as well as road improvements in Gilroy.
“It would give us $1 million a year for street maintenance,” said Woodward. “There is always a lot of talk about the need for additional funding for street maintenance and this extra $1 million a year would help fill that missing gap.”
According to the most recent State of the Streets Report, Gilroy needs to spend about $3.3 million per year for the city to meet its own target of a Pavement Condition Index score of 70. Current funding level is about $300,000 per year.
Other projects identified for funding through the possible sales tax measure include a new interchange at Highway 25 and Highway 101, replacing the temporary intersection that was installed in the 1980s and extending Santa Teresa Boulevard to South San Jose.
“So if you were coming from Hollister and you wanted to take a back way and not get on Highway 101, you could take Highway 25 to Santa Teresa and continue all the way into South San Jose. It creates a whole new corridor for regional traffic,” Woodward said.
After the public meetings, the VTA board will vote in June putting the half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot. Once there, It would require a two-thirds voter majority to pass.
For more information go to: www.vta.org/envision-silicon-valley/envision-silicon-valley