IT IS NEVER ENOUGH
Officials are moving ahead with plans to ask Riverside County voters in 2020 to increase the sales tax, to accelerate regional transportation projects currently on the shelf because there isn’t enough money for them.
And they are putting together a list of road and rail improvements that might be paid for by such a measure.
On Wednesday, Dec. 11, the Riverside County Transportation Commission voted 29-2 to approve a tentative list commissioners intend to refine in January.
The bigger projects include:
Highway 79 bypass around Hemet and San Jacinto
Mid County Parkway, a new freeway from the 215 Freeway to San Jacinto
Building new lanes on the 15 Freeway, from Lake Elsinore to San Diego County
Completion of the 15 Freeway/French Valley Parkway in Temecula
Building new lanes on the 15 in Corona, between the 91 Freeway and Weirick Road
New lanes on the 60 Freeway, from the 215 to Redlands Boulevard in Moreno Valley
New lanes on the 215, from the 60 to Van Buren Boulevard at March Air Reserve Base; and new lanes on the 91 Freeway, from the 15 in Corona to Pierce Street in Riverside.
At the request of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, who sits on the panel, commissioners removed from the list a proposed $1 billion widening of the 91 through Riverside east of Pierce Street.
Citing a recent Riverside City Council decision to oppose a carpool-lane conversion to express lanes, Bailey said he doesn’t believe Riverside residents would support another widening of the 91 and would rather see improvements on other regional routes.
The list also includes modern interchanges, expanded rail service, bridges that separate trains and cars and widened local roads.
“We always hear people say, ‘I wish the train was more convenient,'” said Anne Mayer, commission executive director, in a Friday, Dec. 6, interview.
One of the rail improvements would involve extending Metrolink commuter train service from Perris to San Jacinto.
Mayer said one interchange targeted for expansion is the 10 Freeway at Highway 79 in Beaumont.
“Every single day the interchange is a mess,” she said.
The plan includes cash for road improvements that would aid companies looking to build factories and offices that employ large numbers of people.
Boosting employment within the county is going to be crucial, Corona City Councilman Wes Speake said.
“If we can’t get people to work where they live, it doesn’t matter what we do,” Speake said. “We can’t build roads fast enough.”
Much construction already is taking place around Riverside County, and county residents are contributing toward the cost of those through a half-cent sales tax called Measure A tax that launched in 1989.
But commission officials say there are many projects being left behind in a county that continues to grow fast. And they are proposing an additional half-cent sales tax that Michael Blomquist, toll program director, said would raise $8.8 billion in 2020 dollars countywide and $6.7 billion on the county’s west side over 30 years.
Agency officials have proposed placing a sales-tax increase on the November 2020 ballot that would require a two-thirds vote. Aaron Hake, external affairs director, said he believes passage is within reach because a spring poll of potential voters found 68% would support the measure.
Kevin Jeffries, a Riverside County supervisor, one of two commissioners to vote against moving forward with a tax measure, said he didn’t support it.
“I think that that would be asking too much,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries said the measure would face opposition on both the left and right, from environmental groups and taxpayer advocacy organizations.
A decision is months away.
Agency officials plan to ask commissioners to finalize a list of projects in January, then seek the public’s comments. Commissioners will be asked in June whether to put the measure on the ballot, Mayer said.
- Extra 91 Freeway toll revenue collected in Corona to be spent as far as Riverside, Lake Elsinore
- Riverside County voters could be asked to double half-cent transportation tax
- Solutions sought for southbound 15 Freeway gridlock through Corona
- City opposes carpool-to-toll-lane conversion, spending tolls on projects outside Corona 91 Freeway corridor
SALES TAX PROJECTS
Projects that could be paid for by a possible November 2020 sales-tax measure include:
Highway 79: Bypass around Hemet and San Jacinto
Mid County Parkway: New freeway between the 215 Freeway and San Jacinto in the Ramona Expressway corridor
15 Freeway: Additional lanes from Lake Elsinore to San Diego County
15 Freeway: New lanes in Corona, between the 91 Freeway and Weirick Road
15 Freeway/French Valley Parkway: Completion of the interchange and freeway improvements in Temecula, Murrieta
91 Freeway: New lanes between the 15 Freeway and Pierce Street in Corona, Riverside
60 Freeway: New lanes between the 215 Freeway and Redlands Boulevard in Moreno Valley
215 Freeway: New lanes between the 60 Freeway and Van Buren Boulevard in Riverside, Moreno Valley
New passenger rail: Between Perris and San Jacinto
Ethanac Expressway: New east-west highway across western Riverside County
Cajalco Road: Widening from Temescal Canyon Road to the 215 Freeway
Gilman Springs Road: Safety improvements between the 60 Freeway and Highway 79
DAWG SAYS: TAX WEARY CALIFORNIANS ARE ASKED FOR YET ANOTHER LARGE TAX FOR ROADS. MANY TIMES THESE TAX DOLLARS ARE DIVERTED TO OTHER AREAS, (AKA GAVIN NEWSOME). WHEN WILL THE RESIDENTS THERE SAY ENOUGH AND REQUIRE THEIR LEADERS TO ACT RESPONSIBLY? THEY SEEM TO THINK THERE IS A BOTTOMLESS PIT OF MONEY OUT THERE WITH THE TAXPAYERS…….