My Turn: Measure V " Safer streets for all | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Measure V " Safer streets for all

John Svahn
Executive Director, Truckee Trails Foundation

Election time can be exhilarating and exhausting. While the national debate goes on, it’s often the local elections that make the most difference in our day-to-day lives. For Truckee’s motorists and cyclists, the last item on the ballot ” Measure V ” will definitely have a lasting impact for residents and visitors alike.

On Nov. 4, the voters who make it to the bottom of the ballot will be asked the question posed by Measure V: In order to continue funding for paving our Town’s roads; improving roadway safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians; and upgrading drainage to protect local water quality, shall the Town of Truckee continue its current 1/2 sales tax for a period not to exceed 20 years, with mandatory annual audits, independent citizen oversight, all money spent on town roads without raising taxes?

My answer will be yes!

Measure V will simply continue the 1/2 cent sales tax approved by voters 10 years ago to improve the then-dismal state of Truckee’s roadways. As residents and visitors from that time will remember, dodging potholes was routine (were trout really living in the potholes?) and, if you dared to ride a bike, extreme risks were inherent in the endeavor. Those terrible roads were one of the reasons Truckee incorporated, and why Measure A (the current 1/2 cent sales tax) passed in 1998 with over 70 percent approval. Measure A has added between $1 million and $3 million annually to our roadway maintenance and improvement budget, but is set to expire in 2010. Measure V will take up where Measure A leaves off. The main difference is that Measure V will be expanded to allow funding for roadway maintenance to all town roads, not just the backbone roads for which Measure A funds were provided.

Measure V will thus sustain the benefits of Measure A which have been large and far-reaching. In addition to sealing, restructuring, and paving the automobile travel lanes, these monies have been used for installation of guard rails, safety signage, better and cleaner drainage systems, and one that is very important to the Truckee Trails Foundation: Class 2 bicycle lanes (wider shoulders signed as bike lanes) on some of our most important backbone roads. These lanes benefit both the cyclists and the motorists by making travel safer, less confusing, and less contentious. They also provide critical connections for both locals and visitors alike in our emerging trails and alternative transportation network.

Another benefit to Measure A that Measure V will continue is lessened strain on the town’s general fund. In short, without Measure V, the town will be forced to cut other services and use additional general fund dollars to maintain our roads. As citizens, wouldn’t we rather that those funds were used for programs already in place, or for some other purposes that we’d like to see, (such as a paved bike trail to Glenshire, a pedestrian tunnel at the Mousehole, or a paved trail along Brockway Road from the Regional Park to The Rock?)

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The Measure A sales tax has been of great benefit to our town, and not just for automobile travel lanes. Voting YES on Measure V will not add any new taxes or assessments ” it will just renew and sustain what is already occurring. And it will continue generating much-needed road-maintenance revenue from all who use and benefit from our roads, including second homeowners, tourists, and passer’s-through, as well as our local population. So don’t forget about Measure V when you’re at the polls ” its position on the ballot is way down there, but its importance to Truckee is right at the top!