Local elections include transportation questions

| 8/25/2010

Voters in communities around the country will decide Nov. 2 whether to boost transportation funding. Communities in Florida, South Carolina and Washington are among the locations where votes will be tallied to determine whether sales tax increases will benefit roads, rail and transit.

Ballots in the city of Bellingham, WA, will include a question about whether to raise the sales tax by up to 0.2 percent for local transportation needs. The tax, which would be in effect for 10 years, is estimated to generate $3.8 million annually.

The money would pay for annual street repaving; building sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes; and contracting with the Whatcom Transportation Authority to buy extra bus service.

In Hillsborough County, FL, voters will cast ballots on whether to raise the sales tax by a penny to boost light rail and other transportation projects.

If approved, 75 percent of the new revenue would be used to increase bus service in the Tampa area and a pay for a new light rail system. The remaining 25 percent would be applied to road improvements.

The high-speed rail line would connect to a federally funded route linking Tampa and Orlando.

Voters in Richland County, SC, will decide whether to increase the sales tax for transportation improvements. A penny sales-tax increase is estimated to bring in more than a billion dollars over 25 years.

The revenue would be used to sustain and improve bus, road, bicycle and pedestrian routes in the county. At $627 million, roads would get the biggest portion of funds. Transit projects would get $337 million while other projects would get the rest.

For more November 2010 elections coverage, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the issues included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.