City unveils Measure A spending plan
The county of Santa Barbara Transportation Sales Tax, or Measure A, was passed by voters and is used to keep roads in the county well-maintained for vehicles and pedestrians. On Monday, the city of Santa Maria unveiled how it planned to spend its share of funds generated by Measure A for the next five years.
Since 2008, Santa Barbara County has imposed a one-half of a cent sales tax on purchases made in the county to fund transportation projects. Measure A was a continuation of an earlier program called Measure D, which was approved by voters in 1989.
The county collects the funds and, then, distributes them to all the incorporated municipalities to help fund their street maintenance programs.
“The distribution is based on population,” said Rodger Olds, Santa Maria’s senior civil engineer. “Santa Maria gets the lion’s share of the money.”
The total allocation for fiscal year 2016-17 is $5.1 million. The total allotment for fiscal year 2016-21 will be $26.2 million.
“Of that, we are required to spend 15 percent on alternative transportation expenditures,” Olds said.
The alternative expenditure projects include sidewalk and bicycle lane improvements.
Monday’s presentation only laid out the financial breakdown for the next five years; it did not list specific projects.
The city of Santa Maria relies on a computer program to create its paving plan.
“We have a pavement management program called Street Saver. It identifies what roadways need to be maintained and upgraded,” Olds said.
The computer application uses data it receives from city staff members.
“Street crews survey the roadways and give everyone a score. That gets entered into the program,” Olds explained.
City streets are also on a resurfacing schedule.
“We have been on a chip seal program for years. Every residential street is on a 10-year schedule. Most of our major roadways are on a seven-year schedule,” Olds said.
Chip seal is the process where a multiple layers of a binder is laid on the road surface, then covered with small stones that are rolled and embedded in the binder.
“It is a good preservative for roadways,” the city engineer added.
A few years ago, the city of Santa Maria used Measure A funds to replace every street light in the city with brighter LED lights.
“Some of the area lights in parking lots haven’t been fitted yet, but we are working on it. We are almost done,” Olds said.
The city of Santa Maria’s Public Works Department also recently embarked on a project to address Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps on sidewalks at intersections in the city.
“We are close to getting intersections that don’t have any ramps done,” Olds said.
The Five Year Measure A Program of Projects will next go before the Santa Maria City Council during its May 17 meeting.
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