Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Plan Bay Area 2040 open house

Beginning in late April, residents from across the Bay Area will come together at a series of public open houses to discuss how to plan for our region’s future growth.

Will you be there?

Plan Bay Area, the region’s long-range transportation and housing roadmap, is being updated. The Plan looks to the year 2040, when two million more residents and 1.1 million new jobs are expected in the nine-county Bay Area. How this growth takes place will affect us all in the community.

Please consider attending a workshop, where you can view displays, ask questions and offer comments on long-term goals to:

·       House the projected population,
·       Maintain and enhance our transportation infrastructure,
·       Reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
·       Improve public health and much more.

Plus, you’ll be able to learn about how future housing and employment numbers are forecast and what transportation improvements are already in the pipeline for the region. A complete list of the open houses is available at

Can’t attend the open house? Join the online discussion at or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

What kind of Bay Area we build today will be the legacy we leave for the next generation. If we want to continue to have a strong economy, with a range of housing and employment options for our region’s residents, we need to plan now.

I encourage you to attend an open house and help spread the word about the event to your colleagues. If you want to receive updates about Plan Bay Area 2040, sign up here:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Transportation funding an issue in Solano County

By Melissa Murphy, The Reporter, Vacaville

Posted: 04/24/15, 7:36 PM PDT |

It’s an “end of an era” when it comes to funding for transportation improvements in Solano County.

During Friday’s Solano Economic Development Corporation’s monthly breakfast, the business community received a state, regional and local perspective on transportation issues from Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Solano, Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering and Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls.

Frazier also is chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. Spering also serves on the STA board and on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Spering explained that a “historic chapter” of funding transportation projects that the county has seen in the past is coming to an end.

Improvements along highway 12 between Fairfield and Rio Vista and on Jameson Canyon between Solano and Napa counties, new truck scales on eastbound Interstate 80 and the first phase for the current project for I-80/I-680/SR12 all had an identifiable funding source. Future projects aren’t so fortunate.

The good news is that the positive things that are happening for the Bay Area economy will eventually ripple into Solano County.

“These are remarkable times for the Bay Area,” he said. “That vibrant economy is coming our direction, but it spotlights the weaknesses in the transit system.”

“It’s a tremendous challenge,” Spering continued and added that funds from Proposition 1B have run its course, additional bonds have been exhausted.

He explained that other counties have invested in themselves in the form of a transportation tax, something voters in Solano have been asked to do three times.

“We need a balanced funding plan with a federal, state and regional investment, with a local commitment,” Spering said. “The trend is matching funding.”

The end of an era is coming, “What shall we do for an encore?” Spering asked. ... “There is a lot of opportunity for Solano County, but we have to have the resources.”

He added that in order to protect the quality of life in the county, it must address its road infrastructure.

He urged the federal government to “quit kicking the can down the road” and move forward with a new transportation bill.

Spering said it’s exciting to talk about new projects, and the community as a whole believes transportation issues are a priority. The community, however, becomes silent when it comes to funding those grand projects.

“We can’t put our heads in the sand,” he said. “We have to help ourselves.”

Frazier said he’s passionate about improving the infrastructure in California and is doing what he can at the capital to see that it’s done.

“We’re not just broke,” he said. “We’re broken.”

He explained that the state has lost its focus and as a result “voters are unwilling to invest in us.”

This year will be different if Frazier has his way with a “Go Bold or Go Home” approach.

“This is the year to make a move to fund transportation,” he said and explained that his approach will “spread the pain.”

He admitted that it will be a tough vote because people don’t trust that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will spend the money wisely.

Frazier said he wants Caltrans to build vibrant trade corridors for the benefit of the state.

“We need to get shippers, manufacturers and businesses back in the game,” he said. “We need to work with all of you. I propose a long-term vision and we need a long-term commitment and long-term trust. ... I want to put California back in business.”

The assemblyman explained that the two-thirds vote threshold needed to pass a special tax by a city, county or special district is the hang-up in Solano County, where the majority of voters supported the transportation tax.

In February, Frazier introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4, which would “provide that the imposition, extension, or increase of a special tax by a local government for the purpose of providing funding for local transportation projects, as defined, requires the approval of 55 percent of its voters voting on the proposition.”

“The voters need to decide,” he said. “Solano is deprived of funding for infrastructure and maintenance.”

Halls shared that funding for transportation coming from the federal gas tax revenue hasn’t changed since 1994 and funding from the state gas tax was reduced by 6 cents per gallon, a savings at the pump for motorists, but a $5 million cut to funding for transportation improvements.

Halls explained that the State Board of Equalization took a big bite out of what would have been coming to the county at the same time the conditions of the county’s pavement will likely drop from “fair” to “poor” by 2028.

He agreed that a top priority in the county is road condition, behind public safety and education, but the public has no confidence in the government spending the money wisely.

The government leaders hope that public outreach explaining the need and the importance of the public paying its fair share will change voters’ opinion. They likened it to the 1/8 cent sales tax for library services approved by 68 percent majority of the Solano County voters in 1998. At that time voters were promised more books, more hours and more services for young people — the library system delivered on that promise. The tax would end and have to be renewed 16 years after its inception. Voters returned to the polls in 2012, the middle of the great recession, where 80 percent majority of the voters in Solano approved the sales tax extension.

Transportation leaders point to need for funding changes

By Kevin W. Green
April 25, 2015

FAIRFIELD — A trio of elected and appointed officials agree: Changes are needed in transportation funding and now is the time to make those changes.

That point of view was shared Friday during a Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, was joined on stage by Supervisor Jim Spering and Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls.

Each pointed to cuts in several funding sources as leading to what they described as the need for action.

Frazier spoke of recent action by the state Board of Equalization to change how money paid at the gas pump is divvied up. Spring and Halls said those cuts reduce funding to Solano County for local transportation projects.

The trio agreed it will require a unified effort and the support of the public to address transportation issues on the local level. They acknowledged it will take some work to gain the support of voters. Frazier pointed to actions by lawmakers in Sacramento as fueling a lack of support. He said the state Department of Transportation must be fixed first.

Halls agreed with Frazier, pointing to a need to regain the public’s confidence in government spending.

Frazier said his transportation funding proposal represents substantial spending, and that this is the year to make it happen.

“Our approach will be to spread the pain,” Frazier said of his plan. “We’ll use a portfolio of options to raise money, so that nobody bears the full brunt of the impact. I’m pushing for a ‘go bold or go home’ approach. And for those of you who don’t know me, I won’t go home until we get what we need to accomplish this goal.”

Frazier wants to encourage public-private partnerships. The state needs to get shippers, manufacturers and businesses involved, he said. The state also needs to encourage private enterprise to make capital investments in transportation systems, he said.

Spering said the growing economy will turn attention to issues with area roadways. During the recession, everybody had the tendency to look the other way as streets and roads were not getting fixed, he said. Now that the economy is getting better, the pressure is being put on the system and it’s deteriorating, he said.

The elected officials spoke of a balanced approach to transportation funding that involves federal, state, regional and local tax dollars.

Spering said the regional approach features a “fix it first” philosophy. For the next 25 years, 88 percent of total spending through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is scheduled for fixing and maintaining the system, he said.

“You cannot build new projects on a crumbling foundation,” he said.

Reach Kevin W. Green at 427-6974 or

This version corrects the spelling of Supervisor Jim Spering’s last name in the penultimate paragraph.