Would you pay a nickel a day for a faster and safer trip to the store, to school or to work?
That’s a question voters will answer on Tuesday with the Ada County Vehicle Registration Fee measure. Voters wanting quicker progress fighting congestion, expanding mobility and building new sidewalks, bike lanes and Safe Routes to School should decide to pay a little more.
For most, the increase would be $18 a year, or about 5 cents a day. For the owner of a new car, the increase comes to about 8 cents a day for better signal technology, more efficient intersections and better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists — many of those being our students getting to class.
The Ada County Highway District placed the measure on the ballot after a public opinion survey this spring showed people wanted something done about congestion, first and foremost, and that the public still strongly favored more neighborhood-level improvements: sidewalks and bicycle facilities.
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The ballot language sets aside any new registration fee revenue for the things people want. If approved by voters, the increase would raise an additional $7.5 million a year, funding that could make a dramatic dent.
A pilot project on Chinden Boulevard with the latest signal technology shows what can be done. Late last year, ACHD installed new signal controllers, the computers in the boxes you see at each intersection, and new vehicle detectors, which monitor the flow of traffic.
A before-and-after test of the afternoon, rush hour drive on Chinden from Locust Grove Road to Idaho 16 found that the five-mile trip that took 10 minutes now takes less than eight. ACHD plans upgrades on Fairview Avenue, Eagle Road, Ten Mile Road, Franklin Road, Overland Road and other arterials over the next 20 years; voter approval of the fees may cut that time in half.
The do-list for neighborhood-level improvements is long (some $500 million in total needs), but voter approval of a new fee would speed up the yearly progress while increasing safety for some of our most vulnerable roadway users — those who walk or ride to school, to work, to anywhere. Getting more people out of the cars also decreases clogged roadways.
The average vehicle on county roads is a 2009 model, which is why most motorists would see the smallest fee increase: a nickel a day. But this important investment in our future could improve the quality of life throughout Ada County. . More details are available at www.citizens4bettertransportation.com.
Citizens for Better Transportation formed to promote this initiative because our members and supporters believe our growing community deserves transportation improvements. It’s true that much of our financial support comes from realtors, builders, developers and engineers — people who do well during boom times. And that’s why it’s important for them to give back, which they are.
I urge you to invest in your future on Tuesday.