By Dr. Nancy A. Bilicich
Many of you may be wondering how one of the most fiscally conservative members on the Watsonville City Council could support Measure D. I usually do not support tax increases, but Measure D, a half-cent sales tax, is very important to South County.
Have you traveled to Santa Cruz from South County lately? We know that the prime commute hours are when not to drive to Santa Cruz. But it’s worse than that. I have driven at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., finding that even at those times, it takes an hour to get to Santa Cruz!
Highway 1 has seen a huge increase in traffic and it will not get better. So what can we do to address this situation? Auxiliary lanes on Highway 1 will improve the traffic flow and also increase the safety of the off ramps. It’s essential we do this now.
Nearly one third of county residents do not drive. For those of you who utilize Metro transit and frequently take buses to get to work, visit tourist attractions, attend medical appointments and go shopping, Measure D will prevent cuts to bus routes. Seniors and people with disabilities will see a 30 percent increase in the Community Bridges Lift Line paratransit services. This will give you a better opportunity to move throughout Santa Cruz County.
Public Works Department workers attempt to repair our city streets, but they greatly lack funding. Why? Because streets have in the past been funded by the gas tax. But vehicles are becoming more efficient and even electric, resulting in a decrease in revenues.
For the last several years I have heard so many residents say, “When are you going to fix Freedom Blvd.? There are too many potholes and the lanes need to be marked.” More money from Measure D will go to street repairs and neighborhood projects than any other funding category. Measure D will help us refurbish major streets as we attempt to catch up with numerous repairs throughout the City.
Think of taking a train to Santa Cruz? While Measure D will not fund any train service, it will preserve the rail corridor and enable the community to decide if rail service should happen. You may not be taking the train in the very near future, but by preserving the rail corridor, possible future train transportation is possible. All types of train service would be explored, including electric.
In addition to enhancing Highway 1, repairing our City streets, increasing transportation through transit service and future options, Measure D will invest in bicycle and pedestrian trails. Measure D supports the entire community regardless of your mode of transportation.
We desperately need to improve transportation choices. Please join me in voting YES on Measure D!
Dr. Nancy Bilicich serves on the Watsonville City Council, representing District 7.
Attend a Community Meeting on Measure D, Thursday October 20th from 5:30-7 at Ann Soldo Elementary School, 1140 Menasco Drive, Watsonville.