It’s All About the Dollars
When it comes to traffic relief to keep people safe and the economy moving, it takes money to attract money.
We’ve always known how important it is for our first responders to get to us when we need help, and then get us to the hospital, as quickly and safely as humanly possible. COVID-19 has underlined that need in ways none of us ever expected. The more congested our roads are, the longer our emergency response times, and the more lives are put in harm’s way.
While we’ve been staying safe at home, traffic congestion has eased on our key access routes to medical facilities, like I-80 and Highway 65. But we all know that once we are able to restart the economy, the traffic will come back. PCTPA wants to head that off at the pass, keeping emergency response times low and our residents safe, while we get back to work and businesses revive and thrive.
The improvements we need to keep traffic moving do not come cheap. Now, here’s the good news: the State and the Feds have signaled they’re willing to help, but only if we put up some of our own money.
Congress is talking with the President about a stimulus package for infrastructure, including street and road improvements. Early signs are that it will be structured somewhat like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding from 2009, but instead of $787 billion, the proposals are much bigger, in the $1-2 trillion range. If previous efforts are any indication, there will be a lot more back and forth and details may change significantly, but one thing is almost guaranteed: those who are able to put this money to work the fastest and do the most to build infrastructure and create jobs will get the biggest benefit.
PCTPA knows how to do this first-hand. Back in 2009, our agency was able to quickly take the lead with the ARRA legislation by bringing developer impact fees and local road improvement dollars to the table as a match to attract over $10 million in discretionary money. This meant we were able to construct several projects like the Auburn-Folsom Road widening, improve bike lanes and sidewalks on Washington Boulevard in Roseville, and make road rehabilitation and safety improvements to dozens of locations countywide, from Sunset Boulevard in Rocklin to Nelson Lane in Lincoln to Placer Hills Road near Colfax.
A much bigger package of stimulus funds is also an opportunity to fund much bigger projects, like widening Highway 65. However, it will also require a lot more local match money. Using builder fees will still be a part of the plan and they are coming up with a majority of the local funding but there is still a gap. Builders are charged the maximum allowed and the funding formula has changed at the state and federal level requiring a 50% match. Without an additional source of local funds, there is concern that we would leave stimulus money on the table. PCTPA has been exploring new funding sources, such as the possibility of implementing a locally controlled transportation sales tax. This transportation sales tax can leverage and attract the maximum amount of Federal money and make the highway and interchange improvements that can not only support our economy and create jobs, but also make the roads safer and improve emergency response times.
There are a lot of questions about how we are going to bounce back from this pandemic, but we also know that with adversity there are opportunities. PCTPA is actively working to capitalize on every funding program, getting projects ready for construction, and exploring ways to generate the matching money needed. With the support of Placer residents and businesses, we can make the improvements that reclaim and enhance our quality of life.