On August 24, United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx paid a visit to Santa Clara and toured the progress of the transportation upgrades underway.
U.S. Rep. Mike Honda invited Foxx to the area to tour VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Project and they met with transportation, business and community leaders at Santa Clara University.
In a brief meeting with the press at Santa Clara Caltrain station, Honda and Foxx emphasized the importance of making improvements to transportation infrastructure.
“I want you to know how incredible it is to see a region coming together, putting skin in the game to help advance its transportation mobility needs,” said Secretary Foxx. “It’s really incredible and unique, I would say.”
Foxx acknowledged that population in the Silicon Valley will continue to rise and that as the population rises, there will be negative effects on the travel times in the area.
“A 15 minute trip today will be 20 minutes tomorrow, will be 45 minutes at some point in the future,” said Secretary Foxx. “Unless we seize the future.”
The plans for the Silicon Valley feature a multimodal system where there are numerous choices to get from point A to point B.
BART is just part of the plan. Caltrain is also working on the Peninsula Corridor Electrification project. Caltrain plans to convert the system from diesel-powered trains to electrified trains. The county also plans on repairing and upgrading roads and highways. Additionally, there will be improvements to bicycle and pedestrian mobility.
According to Foxx, improving the local infrastructure will improve commute times and improve quality of life.
“The country needs this region to be one in which people can get from place to place,” said the Secretary. “Our economy depends on it, our quality of life depends on it, and frankly the more successful you are, the more successful I think other regions across the country will be as they try to model what you’re doing.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and VTA Board Chair and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez were also at the meeting to speak about Measure B.
According to the VTA website, Measure B is a sales tax proposal that will enact a 30-year .5 cent sales tax increase on Santa Clara County. The measure will be on the November 8 ballot. http://www.vta.org/Envision-Silicon-Valley/Envision-Silicon-Valley
If Measure B passes in November, Liccardo hopes that it will help secure $1 billion for Caltrain’s electrification and convert Diridon Station in San Jose into the “busiest multimodal station west of the Mississippi.”
The Measure is also referred to as a “self-help measure” because it increases local tax revenue to fund projects before reaching out to the federal government for additional money. Honda introduced U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren as the visionary behind making Santa Clara a self-help county.
According to Foxx, the Government has a good track record to supporting self-help counties. “If you don’t have local funds to match federal funds than you can’t pass go on these projects.”
“I just can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all of us in our community to push for Measure B so we can get the matching dollars from the state and federal government,” said Chaves.
According to Chaves, if Measure B fails in November, the future of Santa Clara County’s transportation projects is in jeopardy.
Honda wanted to bring home the importance of Secretary Foxx’s visit. He said that it demonstrates that we are on the federal radar.
“We have the attention of the Secretary,” said Congressman Honda.