Transportation Needs ConversationWe Want Your Feedback
San Benito County is home to about 60,000 residents, who rely on our transportation system to get to work, school, home, and so much more, every day. There are significant transportation needs throughout the county, from local streets and roads, to major highways. The fact is, San Benito County roads are crumbling under the weight of decades of underinvestment, and average daily traffic on Highway 25 has doubled since the mid 1990’s.
The Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) is the County’s transportation planning agency. Our locally elected Board of Directors is composed of five members representing all areas of San Benito County, including the City of Hollister, the City of San Juan Bautista, and the unincorporated areas of San Benito County including Aromas, Ridgemark, Tres Pinos, Bitterwater, Dunneville, Hudner, and Llanada. Both the COG Board and Staff are committed to maintaining and improving transportation for all of San Benito County.
We are committed to community input and we are listening. The San Benito Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) 2040 identifies projects with the recognized transportation needs of the public. The investments proposed are reflective of the Council of Governments’ policy goals as well as the suggestions expressed by interested community groups, policy makers, partner agencies, stakeholders and the public. We heard a need for local roadway maintenance, improvements to State Route 25, as well as a desire for healthier, more walkable and bike‐friendly community. Community members also emphasized the importance of transportation to support the economic vitality of the region.
Our Regional Transportation Plan has identified a need of more than $1.8B in projects across multiple modes of transportation and areas throughout the county. Our transportation needs are a shared responsibility of federal, state, regional, and local funding sources including commercial, industrial and residential developers to ensure that new developments pay their fair share of the transportation costs. Even with this, we have gap of $700m in need to address the most critical issues — including improving and maintaining local roads and widening Highway 25 to increase safety and relieve traffic.
The COG is in the process of evaluating all possible funding sources, including a prudent Transportation Safety Investment Plan sales tax measure on the November 2018 ballot, detailing the most pressing needs. No final decisions have been made yet – we want to listen to the community first. San Benito County has a major transportation crisis to solve. This is a vital step in addressing these issues and setting up the transportation future of San Benito County residents for generations to come.
San Benito County:
Jaime De La Cruz, Chairperson
City of Hollister:
Jim Gillio, Director
San Benito County:
Anthony Botelho, Director
City of San Juan Bautista:
Tony Boch, Vice Chair
City of Hollister:
What are the transportation needs of San Benito County?
We are assessing our needs and developing a detailed Transportation Expenditure Plan and have recently updated our Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), in which our needs include:
- Maintain Local Streets and Roads: San Benito County roads are crumbling under the weight of decades of underinvestment due to funding deficiencies. Our region is one of seven counties in the state to have an average pavement condition of 46, well below “at risk,” and significantly worse than the statewide average. San Benito County has a combined pavement maintenance need of over $350 million. Well maintained streets and roads will improve safety and traffic flow on local roads.
- Widen Highway 25: Average daily traffic at the San Benito/Santa Clara County line has more than doubled since the mid 1990s. We have made significant improvements, but we need four lanes. Widening Highway 25 will increase safety and relieve traffic congestion.
- Repair potholes.
- Increase pedestrian and bike safety.
- Protect and enhance bus and paratransit services for seniors, people with disabilities, and youth.
- Go to http://www.sanbenitocog.org/TransportationNeedsConversation to fill out our feedback form and let us know what you think.
What is the Council of San Benito County Governments?
The Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) is San Benito County’s regional transportation planning agency. The Council of San Benito County Governments improves the mobility of San Benito County travelers by planning for and investing in a multi-modal transportation system that is safe, economically viable, and environmentally friendly. The Council of Governments is committed to enhancing and improving transportation in San Benito County.
What about existing transportation funding?
The San Benito COG makes every effort to use resources wisely. With no locally controlled source of dollars, we struggle to compete for state and federal matching fund dollars. Even with SB1 and other funds, the burden is growing to adequately repair and upgrade our transportation system and infrastructure needs.
What is the solution?
We are currently developing a Transportation Safety Investment Plan (TIP) to address our most critical needs, which will require input from the COG board and our community. Later this year, the Board may consider placing a countywide sales tax measure on the 2018 ballot to fund the TIP. The funds raised by a potential sales tax would create a source of local dollars to achieve our local San Benito County transportation needs.
Why are local funds important?
With local funds, we can choose our own transportation improvements, and the state cannot take the money away: we are helping ourselves. Many counties in California are “self-help” counties that leverage state and federal funds. San Benito is not currently a “self-help” county but can join others around California in becoming one to qualify and compete for matching state and federal funds.
Is Highway 25 our local responsibility?
Highway 25 is a shared responsibility between state transportation agencies, federal transportation agencies, and our local San Benito County. The cost for Highway 25 improvements on the Santa Clara County-San Benito County border will be shared with Santa Clara County as well.
What about Highway 156?
Highway 156 does have needs that are being addressed, including widening the road to four lanes, but those improvements have already been fully funded by state highway funds and fees paid by developers building new homes in San Benito County. New residential and commercial building in the County has increased traffic on Highway 156 and developers are paying their fair share.
What about developer fees — do builders pay their fair share?
Our primary objective is to ensure that new development pays its fair share of the transportation costs associated with growth and the increased demand on the transportation network. New development (housing, commercial and industrial) pays for their fair share through our transportation impact mitigation program. Right now, each new house built requires payment into a fund for road improvements to fairly mitigate impact. Funds have been collected since the 1990s and have paid for other major road improvements with a $27 million investment. In 2019, $10 million of developer fees will help pay for the Highway 156 widening. In the future, we anticipate another $247 million will be collected over the next 22 years to add significant roadway improvements as well. Even with these funds, the burden is growing to adequately repair and upgrade our transportation system and infrastructure needs.
What is the proposed tax and how much money will be generated for San Benito County?
NO decisions have been made yet. The San Benito COG is studying a 1% sales tax that would raise about $16M per year. This revenue would be dependent on the economy and the amount of goods sold in San Benito County.
If the San Benito COG does pursue a sales tax measure, when will that decision happen?
NO decisions have been made yet. COG leaders are seeking YOUR INPUT first before critical decisions are made. To qualify for the November 2018 election, the Board would have to file its resolution calling for an election by no later than August 10, 2018.
Who makes the final decision on a local sales tax measure?
The locally elected San Benito COG Board is the legal entity that must take action to call for an election. Taking such an action would then put the question to local San Benito County voters to decide. Ultimately, the San Benito County REGISTERED VOTERS would have the final say when they vote for or against the measure as absentee voters or at the polls.