While the votes for (most) of the candidates have been tallied and the dust from the midterm election is settling, we’re tallying up how vitally important transportation issues fared on the ballot this midterm election. The final count shows voters in large and small communities around the country said yes to some important statewide and local initiatives to bolster transportation spending projects in their own backyards.
In San Francisco for example voters gave an overwhelming thumbs up to a $500 million bond that will support road improvements and transit reliability and accessibility. Planned improvements include redesigned streets, more bike and transit-only lanes, improved maintenance and improvements at area metro stations.
While not all ballot initiatives in support of transportation spending were approved this year, 58 measures in 18 states over the past year were approved—that’s a 71 percent success rate for those keeping track.
Just outside San Francisco in Alameda County, voters backed an $8 billion plan that includes $2.8 billion for transit, $2.4 billion for street improvements, $1 billion for paratransit for people with disabilities, $650 million for bike/pedestrian and safety measures, and $300 million for transit-oriented development.
Marylanders approved a statewide constitutional amendment to keep politicians’ paws off of the state’s Transportation Trust Fund—protecting these funds from being used to support general expenses in the state budget. Wisconsin voters approved a similar measure to safeguard transportation funds by stipulating revenue deposited in the state’s transportation fund be spent only on transportation-related projects.
Clayton County, Georgia residents—an Atlanta suburb—rejected a decision by a county board in 2010 to cancel bus service by voting in favor of a one-cent sales tax to join the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA) system. The vote will expand transportation options in one of the most gridlocked cities in the country.
While not all ballot initiatives in support of transportation spending were approved this year, 58 measures in 18 states over the past year were approved—that’s a 71 percent success rate for those keeping track. It underscores the point that Americans are willing to spend a little bit more to have a smarter, safer and more efficient transportation infrastructure.
The higher than average success rate of these measures—twice the success rateof ballot measures generally—sends a strong message to Congress that these are the kinds of investments people want in their communities. Now that thousands of voters have said yes to local transportation investments, it’s time for Congress to say yes to the investments that will truly improve the quality of all of America’s infrastructure.