Vote NO on Fresno County Measure C Renewal

I am awaking from my slumber to talk a little about the upcoming vote on Fresno County Measure C, a 30-year extension of the half-cent tax for “road and transportation improvements.”

I like transportation, clearly, and I believe it’s important to fund transportation. So this should be a sure thing right? Well, one of the reasons I started this blog was because I was upset about how Measure C money was being spent. Highway expansion, roadway expansion, and a side of more roadway expansion, like the sprawl-inducing extension of 180 deep into rural areas.

Theoretically, Measure C had a bike/ped/transit component. But in reality, it meant, at best, throwing a wider sidewalk on one side of a widening, like the new path along Veteran’s Boulevard – another roadway designed to facilitate sprawl.

Measure C didn’t improve transportation for Fresno County, it simply cemented auto-oriented sprawl. That’s a big problem, because it’s incredibly difficult to fix that.

What about the Measure C on the ballot. It’s 2022 – surely things will be different right?

You can see the spending plan here (PDF).

Or to put it simply:

The GIANT bit is “road repair,” a whole 51% of the plan. Everyone likes smooth roads, including bicyclists. However:

“Installation of new sidewalks, bike lanes, or curbs and gutters are not eligible under this Program.”

Hm. If a roadway doesn’t have sidewalks, then surely adding them is a form of repair – but not under this tax. Sidewalk repairs CAN be done, but limited to 20% of a project budget.

The second bit is “local control” which says everyone’s needs are different, and locals know best. Sounds great. But then we get to the performance indicators.

  • Number of bottlenecks eliminated.
  • Additional lane miles.
  • Signals and other stop control devices or signage installed

Ok, not a great start…but it does go on to include

  • Safety improvements including vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians.
  • Miles of sidewalks built or repaired.
  • Miles of high speed internet underground conduit installed. (???)

So while this section CAN include bike/ped/transit….the fact that they’re leading with more roadway widening makes me thinks that’s just what we will keep getting. Later in the report, it does say “All streets and roads constructed or improved in whole or in part with Measure C Renewal funds shall include “Complete Street” features” which is good, but it just means the new sprawl roads must have a 5-foot sidewalk. That’s a low standard.

The third section is urban and rural public transit, which would be 12%.

12% isn’t bad, and the Fresno transit agencies DO depend on this. But there’s no transit addition, just the status quo – which as we all know, isn’t great. Any of the improvements in Fresno area transit you’ve seen over the last couple of decades, like Q, came from federal funds. Incidentally, the word “rail” doesn’t appear once in the plan. The last plan did include a rail component (rail consolidation) but that was just an attempt to help cars by removing grade crossings.

Section 4 in the report is peds and bikes, or “Active Transportation”, which as the pie-chart shows, is very little – less than Administration. Also, smaller towns (under 25,000) wouldn’t get this pot. That’s a problem – small towns are inherently walkable! You can walk across Mendota in under 45 minutes!

Section 5 is “Safety Improvement and Congestion Relief,” for a nice cool billion. What does that mean? Highway expansion!

“auxiliary lanes, freeway interchange improvements, metering projects, demand management, and Smart Corridor concepts that maximize capacity of existing facilities”

You could say, most people drive, so shouldn’t most of the funding go to driving? Well, that’s a bit of chicken and egg isn’t it. If we keep building highways and such, that’s all people will do. People will never switch to transit or active transportation if it continues to be a sideshow. Transit and active transportation will never work in a sprawl environment because the distances are too far and densities too low.

Who is supporting Measure C? The California Alliance for Jobs, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, and organizations like the California Association of Realtors, which thrive on sprawl. It’s also funded by construction folks which is whatever – they want to keep their members employed.

What happens if you vote no?

The good news is – nothing!

The current version of Measure C doesn’t expire until 2027. Voting no means sending them back to the drawing board to give us a better mix of projects. The 2024 election will probably have a higher D turnout (as all presidential elections do), which is probably why they tried to sneak it in this year.

So vote no!

6 Replies to “Vote NO on Fresno County Measure C Renewal”

  1. I’m curious what the status is of the Rail Consolidation element of the Measure C renewal passed back in 2006. It is my understanding that if Rail Consolidation through west central and northwest Fresno wasn’t implemented by this year (in a span of 15 years from the day Measure C renewal went into effect in 2007), the approximately $101 million was to go toward grade separation projects its purpose to separate intersections of road and railroad: What is the status of that?

    Next, you are so right that there is zero mention of “rail” in the latest iteration of the Measure C proposition. It’s totally understandable that there wouldn’t be any. There is no local rail. Which is so disappointing, especially considering that a world-class high-speed train system when up and running will serve Fresno and have it’s very own station.

    Whereas Bay Area and L.A. area transit hubs will have a network of Amtrak and/or BART and/or heavy rail commuter (like Caltrain in the Bay Area and Metrolink in the south Coast region) and/or light rail/streetcar/tram, Fresno apparently is having none of that, that is, of course, unless and until that type of mode is specified, meaning being called for, regardless of whatever shape or form any future county sales tax measure may take.

    Which leaves me to wonder what connecting services will be afforded to high-speed train riders once stepping off the train. Those will be very limited, no doubt.

    It also seems that with all of the presumed vehicle traffic descending upon downtown in the vicinity of the HSR station absent a connecting rail operation, local area streets will likely become plagued by considerable congestion. That’s what we are likely to face and as a result, we should be thinking more along the lines of what it will take to adequately address this issue. That’s my take.

    1. I know they fully gave up on consolidation but I am not sure how the money was re-allocated.

      The rail option I think it most feasible is having a train on the UP tracks making local stops in Madera, Herndon, Shaw, downtown, Fowler, and Selma. But it would take serious money to get UP to agree.

      I agree that the HSR station, and the planned garages, will result in more traffic downtown. Also important to note that its almost 2023 and theres still no station plan, which indicates yet another project delay.

      1. James, to your point about launching a rail service serving Madera, Herndon, Shaw, downtown, Fowler and Selma may come to fruition some day.and possibly as an extension of the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger rail service. If not part of ACE I just don’t see this happening at all. Currently, according to what I understand, an ACE extension from Lathrop (near Stockton) to Modesto using Union Pacific Rail right of way is already in the works with a planned future extension south to Merced and one north to Sacramento. From what I remember, the service is being dubbed either “Valley Rail” or “Valley Link”. Other than that, I just don’t see much call for a local rail commuter service. Arrival of HSR in Fresno, however, could change the whole discussion/dynamic.

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