Voters in Stanislaus County will decide whether to approve new money to fix potholes, expand highways, and upgrade rail and bus service.
Measure L would raise the local sales tax by a half a cent and is expected to bring in $1 billion over the next 25 years. The money would go toward major interchanges on Highway 99 and help the county to compete for federal and state funding for transportation projects.
Additionally, money would also go towards bike and pedestrian paths, bus service and possibly an extension for Altamont Express rail service into the county.
The measure requires a two-thirds majority.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa says voters have rejected similar measures twice before but now proponents are concentrating on local roads.
“We only missed by about 350 votes out of 155,000 last time, so we were close," says Chiesa. “Most of the money is going into local roads and street repairs and that’s the biggest complaint, public safety, that I’ve received from my constituency.”
Chiesa says improving the county’s infrastructure is important and especially the 1,400 miles of road within the county.
“You can expect over the 25-year life to have your road repaired in some way, shape, or fashion, three times over that 25 years,” says Chiesa.
Former Modesto City Councilman Bruce Frohman opposes the measure.
“The main agenda is to provide subsidies for urban growth to create additional urban sprawl to build expressways to serve residential subdivisions, etc,” says Frohman.
Frohman says he doesn’t believe the money will cover the eventual costs.
They can’t fix the roads and accommodate all the urban growth they’re going to generate when they do all the expressways they’re proposing," says Frohman. “At the end of the 25-year period, this county will have worse traffic problems then we do now.”
All nine municipalities in Stanislaus would share in Measure L revenue.