Competing groups are lining up on opposite sides of a November ballot measure to fund new highway projects in Santa Cruz County with a sales tax increase.

One group, Get Santa Cruz County Moving (Yes on D), this week announced major endorsements in support of the local transportation measure, Transportation Sales Tax Measure (Measure D), including environmental, labor and human services organizations, business leaders and public safety officials.

Another group, the Campaign for Sensible Transportation (CFST) has announced its opposition to the measure, which will be put to Santa Cruz County voters on Nov. 8.

The opposition group said this week it made its decision after unsuccessfully trying to get the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to remove from the ballot measure their plan to add lanes to Highway 1.

The pro-Measure D campaign also launched website, www.GetSantaCruzCountyMoving.org  where  visitors can learn more about the proposed measure, make a donation and endorsement, and  review current endorsements and more. The campaign’s new Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/GetSantaCruzCountyMoving.

“We cannot agree with burdening county residents with a 30-year, $100 million debt for a discredited strategy of widening Highway 1,” explained Rick Longinotti, Chair of anti-Measure D group.

“Widening highways has been proven not to reduce congestion by researchers,” Longinotti said.

 “Even the Draft Environmental Impact Report published by Caltrans for widening Highway 1 notes that the costly construction project won’t reduce congestion,” added Longinotti. “The Caltrans report predicts continued ‘breakdown’ of traffic flow on Highway 1 following expansion.”

The pro-Measure D group noted that the measure’s supporters on the ballot documents are: Nancy A. Bilicich, Councilmember, City of Watsonville, Piet Canin, VP, Sustainable Transportation, Ecology Action, Peggy Dolgenos, Past Chair, Santa Cruz County Business Council, Lynda Francis, President, Board of Directors, Seniors Council, and Bruce McPherson, Supervisor, Santa Cruz County, 5th District.

The group said major endorsement include:

Bike Santa Cruz County, Bike Station Aptos, Caletti Cycles, Ecology Action, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Spokesman Bicycles, Aptos Chamber of Commerce, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, Plantronics, Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce, Santa Cruz County Business Council, Carpenters Union/Local 505, Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, United Transportation Union/Local 23 (bus drivers);

Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Community Bridges, Human Care Alliance, Palo Alto Medical Foundation/Sutter Health, Physicians Medical Group, Seniors Council, Democratic Women’s Club of Santa Cruz County, Friends of the Rail & Trail, Pajaro Valley Cesar Chavez Democratic Club, Santa Cruz County Democratic Party, Trail Now.

“Measure D will fund one of the most environmentally sustainable local transportation improvement plans in California,” the group said in its statement. “The measure provides millions of dollars more for safer bike routes and protects vital transit services to reduce reliance on automobiles. Many local streets and roads are in poor condition, highways are crowded and public transportation suffers from state and federal budget cuts.”

It said options for safe biking are limited, cut-through traffic threatens neighborhood safety and there aren’t enough sidewalks and safe crossings for pedestrians.

“Our traffic congestion is so bad that critical police, fire and ambulance response time is often lost on crowded local roadways. Measure D can improve the outcomes for those in need of 9-1-1 emergency services.” 

 “Our county needs viable choices for people who are stuck in traffic not an expensive boondoggle,” countered Longinotti.

He said that proven programs include safe, reliable, low-cost, state-of-the-art, public transit; employee commuter programs; a long-term commitment to reasonably priced housing near job centers.

Longinotti will discuss “Course Correction on Transportation” at a public meeting on September 13, 6:30 p.m. at the Scotts Valley Public Library, 251 Kings Village Dr., Scotts Valley.

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