More than two years ago, on November 8, 2016, 72% of voters approved Measure B, a revenue measure to repair potholes, fix local streets, help bring BART to San Jose and Santa Clara and much more. To date, not a penny of that money has been spent. Why? Because a single resident sued, Measure B funds already collected, over $200 Million of it, sit in escrow, waiting to achieve the progress hundreds of thousands of Santa Clara County voters demanded with their votes. Thankfully, after a recent court decision, we are a little farther down the road to victory and, finally, traffic relief.
Measure B was years in the making. A broad coalition of elected officials and stakeholders worked with the transportation professionals at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to ensure Measure B would mean real change for residents of all income levels no matter what modes of transportations they favor. Measure B projections include $1.2 Billion for local roads, up to $1.5 Billion for BART to San Jose, $250 million for bike and pedestrian improvements, over $1 Billion of capital improvements to help improve Caltrain, and much more.
VTA started collecting the proceeds in April 2017. Projects should be underway now, but not a dollar has been spent. Roads, potholes and other improvements are not getting the help the voters demanded, all because one citizen filed a lawsuit.
Thankfully, we are now closer to being able to fulfill the wishes of the voters to make traffic, our roads and our transit a little better. In April 2017, the trial court threw the lawsuit out at the earliest opportunity. Last month, the 6th District Court of Appeals heard the inevitable appeal; and a little more than a week later, tossed out the lawsuit against Measure B once again. On November 7th the Court denied a petition for a rehearing.
If the Plaintiff files another appeal, that would only add to the already-two-year delay. But maybe one day soon, our litigious neighbor will be stuck in traffic or bounced by a pothole and decide standing in the way of progress 72% of voters not only wanted but agreed to pay for is not the smoothest path to a better Bay Area.
-Jason Baker, VP Transportation, Housing & Community Development at the Leadership Group