Investing Today In Tomorrow's Transportation
By Leo Zuber
Chair, San Joaquin Council of Governments
Council member, Ripon City Council
Measure K is the half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in San Joaquin County. It has become an innovative, vital part of providing county residents with necessary transportation improvements to support the kind of lifestyle they desire. Those improvements touch the lives of every person who lives, works and attends school in San Joaquin County as well as everyone traveling through the county to other places. Measure K plays a critical role in economic development, goods movement, and business vitality. The improvements implemented with funds generated by Measure K will touch the lives of people for decades to come. From highway widening that eases congestion and improves air quality to Safe Routes to Schools projects that enhance safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to street revitalization projects that expand public health and safety while giving new life to neighborhoods, Measure K earns a very high return on our residents’ investment.
I am the board chair of the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG), the agency that manages Measure K funds as the Local Transportation Authority (LTA). My fellow SJCOG board members and I take very seriously the responsibility of developing policies that guide Measure K spending now and for the future. For those who might not know, SJCOG is a joint powers authority comprised of San Joaquin County and the cities of Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Escalon and Lathrop. We work to foster coordination throughout the region and with state and federal agencies the goal of increasing the quality of life in our cities and the county as a whole.
Measure K projects benefit us all, but it could not have been possible without the vision that brought Measure K about in the first place. Realizing we needed to put money aside for transportation projects, county voters approved Measure K in 1990 for 20 years. Seeing that the promises made were being kept, voters resoundingly renewed Measure K in 2006 for 30 years.
Besides creating funding to address street and road issues throughout the county, Measure K funds are used to leverage access to state and federal funds for roadway projects. While Measure K has generated over $150 million to be used toward major roadway projects, those funds have been used to generate over $500 million in state and federal funds to be used for those projects, a threefold increase in the funding level for roadway projects.
Measure K has made a significant difference in the lives of people living and working in San Joaquin County by funding projects that improve transportation safety and the quality of life here. It has made and continues to make a difference in the transportation system - to freeways, streets and roads, public transit networks, and pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly programs - that move people and commerce in and through the San Joaquin region, while reducing congestion and improving air quality. While much has been accomplished, there is still much to be done. I and my SJCOG colleagues are committed to continuing that effort in the coming years.