SamTrans looks for residents' input on spending prioritiesBy Shaun Bishop
If you're tired of those bumps on Woodside Road or that tricky interchange on Highway 101, county officials want to hear about it.
The agency in charge of spending an estimated $1.5 billion in transportation funding from San Mateo County's 1/2-cent sales tax measure is asking residents how they would distribute the money as it prepares a long-term strategic plan.
Measure A, the 20-year tax originally passed in 1988, was reauthorized by voters in 2004 for an additional 25 years, beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
The San Mateo County Transportation Authority held the second of four community meetings Wednesday to determine which projects are priorities.
"Some of this is, 'Are there things we want to continue and finish from the previous measure that are important to folks?'" said Supervisor Rich Gordon, a member of the authority's board. "And also where people think the greatest need is at the moment, particularly around roads and highways,"
Officials expect to leverage the $1.5 billion in sales tax money over 25 years to get $2.2 billion in matching federal and state funds.
Dollars from the original Measure A paid for the $87.5 million Oyster Point-Highway 101 interchange in South San Francisco, the Redi-Wheels shuttles for disabled or elderly residents, and upgrades of various Caltrain grade crossings, among other projects.
Some of the re-authorized spending is specific and relatively inflexible, such as $240 million to rebuild and upgrade Caltrain and $30 million for ferry service to South San Francisco and Redwood City.
In other cases, the authority has not yet decided which projects will get top priority or in what order they will be completed.
For highway projects, which have $413 million in earmarks, officials will consider prioritizing $24 million of work on Coastside highways, $50 million on Highway 92 and $109 million on various sections of Highway 101.
Cities throughout the county will get about $338 million from Measure A for local projects, so the authority has no say over that spending.
The re-authorized Measure A also reflects a new emphasis on bicyclists and pedestrians, with $45 million in projects dedicated to them.
That represents a substantial increase from the original measure, which gave only $15 million for bike projects and lumped them with metering lights and other miscellaneous spending.
Cyclists hope the funds can help complete the county's "bike network" by filling gaps in existing bike lanes and creating paths over barriers such as freeways, said Corinne Winter, executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
"There'll be this one piece that you can't easily cross, this freeway overpass," Winter said. "It's those pieces that are really critical to making it possible to make people feel empowered to take their bike instead of their car."
A draft of the strategic plan, which must be finalized by the end of the year, is expected to be released in mid-October, said spokeswoman Christine Dunn.
The final two community meetings take place Sept. 10 at Daly City Hall and Sept. 11 at the Redwood Shores Community Library.
Copyright ©2008 San Mateo Daily News. Published 09/03/2008.