In 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower's Administration came up with the Interstate Highway System. The idea was coined the "Greatest Public Works Project in History," according to the website fhwa.dot.gov: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/history.htm. This put millions of Americans to work and is "considered it one of the most important achievements" in President Eisenhower's and the nation's history, and historians agree," according to the very same website.
This subject came to mind one day, as I sat on my bag... doing "nothing." That's what a lot of folks think I do while I am panhandling. My friends know better, though. But some of these people believe I just sit there and beg for money and food all day long. This is not what I do, people. I write... I ob serve... I write some more... ob serve some more... and come up with ideas for stories, and other things. And one day, I was thinking, why doesn't our president put the nation back to work by rebuilding all the infrastructure that needs fixing.
Not only do we the American People need to fix the politics and inner workings of our political system, but we also need to fix our nation's roads, highways, and bridges. Our infrastructure is woefully inadequate. With the stroke of a pen, the president could put millions of Americans back to work, as did Mr. Eisenhower back in '56. Only this time we would be rebuilding and retrofitting what they first build back then.
However, with all great projects, the very first step is needed. When you are chopping down a tree, you do not start at the top and work your way down. You must start with the trunk. You must fall the tree, strip all the branches away, and then you can begin cutting from the top down. But not before you fall it, and that starts at the bottom. Just as if you were building a house. The foundation is the first thing done after surveying and grating. Pouring begins and then you build. The same can be said with this sort of project, and Measure B1 is just the project that could inspire our "leaders" in Washington D.C. to clamor toward. Politically, it seems like a winner, all the way around. Anyone opposing this idea would have to be trying to sabotage any sort of recovery for political gain. And would be doing so at the expense of those cold, tired, and hungry Americans (and Bay Area People) who are sick and tired of hearing nothing but excuses from those hired to work for the very citizens they seem all too happy to ignore.
Measure B1 would give the Bay Area an economic boost on par with the aforementioned Interstate Highway System Eisenhower installed back in 1956. And it's needed, too. It's not like this project is coming at the expense of taxpayers and there will be no benefit. There is all sorts of benefit wrapped in this measure.
First off, according to the proponents of Measure B1, "The existing expenditure plan has attracted supplemental funds of over $3 billion from outside sources for Alameda County transportation investments." This means jobs are being created. This means products are being bought, shipped, installed, and people are making those things happen. There will be a need for folks to fill those positions, which gets people back to work, which stimulates the economy, because people are spending money, because they have it to spend! If you (the taxpayer) do not create projects like what Measure B1 is proposing, you have stagnation; you have deterioration; you have failure. This measure also creates new construction in areas that are in decline or have been in decline and were wasting away, becoming a real "blight" to our county.
Also concerning this measure, every bit of the requested allocation of funds has a function and has been detailed in their (proponents) program. My source, the "2012 Alameda County Transportation Expenditure Plan," (produced by the Alameda Transportation Commission) lists all expenditures in percentage, even. I will post where all this money is going. It will be incumbent upon you to do more investigating into the exact wording of where all this money goes, as the explanation is quite lengthy for this column, as it is already long enough.
-Public Transit and Specialized Transit (48%)
-Local Streets and Roads (30%)
-Highway Efficiency, Freight and Economic Development (9%)
-Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure (8%)
-Sustainable Land Use and Transportation (4%) and Technology and Innovation (1%)."
And, with fuel prices soaring through the roof, there will be more and more demand for public transportation needs by the public at large. Therefore, it only seems prudent to allocate tax dollars where they can be pushed toward such investments; this is an investment in our future:
"Public Transit and Specialized Transit Investments
-Transit Operations, Maintenance, and Safety Program (24% of Net Revenue, $1,857 M)
-Specialized Transit for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities (10% of Net Revenue, $774 M)
-Pass-Through Funding For East Bay Paratransit Consortium (6% of Net Revenue, estimated at $464 M)
-City-Based and Locally Mandated Pass-Through Funding (3% of Net Revenue, estimated at $232 M)
-Coordination and Gap Grants (1% of Net Revenue, estimated at $77 M)
-Bus Transit Efficiency and Priority ($35 M)
-AC Transit East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Projects ($25 M)
-College/Broadway Corridor Transit Priority ($10 M)
-BART System Modernization and Expansion ($710 M)
-BART to Livermore ($400 M)
-BART System Modernization and Capacity Enhancements ($310 M) (There is even more breakdown in funding to this project in the booklet)
-Regional Rail Enhancements and High Speed Rail Connections ($355 M)
-Dumbarton Rail Corridor Implementation ($120 M)
-Union City Intermodal Station ($75)
-Capital Corridor Service Expansion ($40 M)
-Railroad Corridor Right of Way Preservation and Track Improvements ($110 M)
-Oakland Broadway Corridor Transit ($10 M)."
Okay, how about our roads? Tired of potholes yet?
"Local Streets and Roads
-Local Streets and Roads Maintenance and Safety Program (20% of Net Revenues, $1,548 M)
-Major Commute Corridors, Local Bridge and Seismic Safety Investments ($800 M)
Highway Efficiency and Freight Investments
-I-80 Corridor Investments From the Contra Costa County Line to the Bay Bridge ($76)
-State Route 84 From I-580 to I-680 ($132 M)
-I-580 Corridor Investments From Dublin to San Joaquin County Line ($48)
-I-680 From Contra Costa County Line to the Santa Clara County Line ($60)
-I-880 Corridor Investments From Oakland to Union City ($284 M)
-Freight and Economic Development Program (1% of Net Revenue, $77 M).
And now to the bicycle and pedestrian aspect of this measure. A lot like with the BART and the fixing of rail lines and upgrades therein, this portion of the measure address those areas in which people who would be riding the BART would be affected by:
"Bicycle and Pedestrian Investments
-Completion of Major Trails - Iron Horse Trail, Bay Trail, and East Bay Greenway ($264 M)
-Local Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program (5% of Net Revenue, $387 M)
-Bicycle and Pedestrian Direct Allocation to Cities and Alameda County (3% of Net Revenue, estimated at $232 M)
-Bike and Pedestrian Grant Program (2% of Net Revenue, estimated at $154 M)."
Enhancements to BART station areas and plazas:
"Investments in Sustainable Transportation and Land Use Linkages
-Priority Development Area/Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Improvements ($300 M)."
That's quite a bit of money, you're probably saying to yourself right now. You're probably wondering who would be watching all of it... who would be in charge of making sure that none of it gets reallocated to some other project that some bureaucrat, who had nothing at all to do with the original idea or implementation of this measure, doesn't steal (Or, as they like to call it, 'misappropriation of funds.') or misdirect your tax dollars, I give you:
"Governing Body and Organizational Structure."
According to this (detailed) booklet,
"The Alameda CTC is governed by a Commission comprised of 22 members, with the following representation:
-All five Alameda County supervisors
-Two Oakland representatives
-One representative from each of the other 13 cities
The Commission is assisted by staff dedicated to implementation and motoring of sales tax projects and programs. The total cost assigned for salaries and benefits for administrative employees shall not exceed 1% of the revenues generated by the sales tax. The total cost of administration of this tax, including all rent, supplies, consulting services and other overhead costs will not exceed 4% of the proceeds of the tax. In addition, funds to repay election costs are included herein.
Independent Watchdog Committee
The Independent Watchdog Committee will have the responsibility of reviewing and overseeing all expenditures of sales tax funds by the Alameda CTC. The Independent Watchdog Committee (IWC) reports directly to the public.
The Alameda CTC is assisted by the advice of technical and public advisory committees. These committees, described below, meet regularly and are charged with carrying out important functions on behalf of the Alameda CTC.
Alameda County Technical Advisory Committee (ACTAC)
The ACTAC is the technical advisory committee to the Alameda CTC. The ACTAC members provide technical expertise, analysis and recommendations related to transportation planning, programming and funding with the Alameda CTC Executive Director functioning as Chair.
Paratransit Advisory and Planning Committee (PAPCO)
PAPCO addresses funding, planning, and coordination issues regarding specialized transportation services for seniors and persons with disabilities in Alameda county. PAPCO has the responsibility of making direct recommendations to the Board of Directors of the Alameda CTC on funding for senior and disabled transportation services. PAPCO is supported by a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of paratransit providers in Alameda County funded by local transportation sales tax funds.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
The BPAC reviews all competitive applications submitted to the Alameda CTC for bicycle and pedestrian safety funds from Measure B, along with the development and updating of the Alameda Countywide Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans and makes recommendations to the Alameda CTC for funding. The BPAC also provides input on countywide educational and promotional programs and other projects of countywide significance, upon request.
The Alameda CTC will establish other community and technical advisory committees as necessary to implement the projects and programs in the TEP and to inform and educate the public on the use of funds for the projects and programs in the TEP."
And, again, for (a lot) more information on this committee and how it will operate, you can read about it in the detailed plan presented in the url at the top of the page, or by grabbing a hard copy from The Bike Station: click here
According to Dave Campbell, who operates The Bike Station in Downtown Berkeley, California, there are already "12,000 jobs provided, currently," where the county is concerned. However, if this measure were to pass, that number "can double," added Mr. Campbell. For more information about Dave Campbell, the Bike Station, and how this store fits into the entire measure (if adopted), more information can be afforded at: Email address removed .
I know this is a ton of information to sift through. Again, there is more if you go to the link I provided. Maybe you need a little more information. It's there. I get that there's a lot to deal with here. And I understand that most of my friends (and others) out there are way too busy to go through all these measures, detail by detail, because of all the running around with daily chores and work and life, in general. This is why I am writing about most of these measures. So people can have a common understanding about what they entail, as opposed to what those who are opposed to these measures want you to believe.
And sure, I do have a slant... I am voting yes on this measure, but I am ten times more fair of my assessment than other so-called "impartial" parties. From most of the articles I have been reading, about most of these measures, whether that source comes from the East Bay Express or out of the mouths of those I am fighting (mostly fascists who want to trample on the rights of American Citizens, just because they are too poor to fight them and their bigotry) against, all I see is a heavy slant. A prime example of this is in the East Bay Express's article ('Unfounded Fears') about Measure S: "Civil Sidewalks Initiative," they have coined it. That article is chop full of bias and one-sided reporting.
Consider the source, I like to say. And most of the oppositions sources on this measure, as well as others, is full of scare tactics and boogeyman politics. Therefore, if anyone tells you that Measure B1 is "too costly," you tell them it's too costly to not adopt this measure. Because, we are only going to pay ten times (at least) more, at a later time. It's bad enough that this generation has saddled the next two (at least) generations with all that (Federal) debt, let's not strap them with even more (local) debt. Also, this measure takes care of the (well-paid, unexploited) employment problem we are currently having in this nation and county.
Measure B1 is a win-win situation for the East Bay... so please, vote yes.
-James Richard Armstrong II