Transportation measures will total more than $175 billion on election day

Nov. 8 will be a big day for transportation officials across the country as well as those running for elected offices. Researchers at the nonprofit Center for Transportation Excellence (CTE) estimate $175 billion in transportation projects will be on the ballot in about 70 measures nationwide. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates that total could be as high as $200 billion.

“Communities of all sizes are asking citizens to vote for initiatives that will determine their future,” said APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes. “These initiatives and referendums are critical to expanding mobility options and to increasing the economic vitality of their communities.”

One of the largest measures that voters will consider will take place in Los Angeles County, Calif. Voters will cast their ballots for or against Measure M, which would increase sales tax to fund $98 to $120 billion in planned transportation improvements. Taxes would generate about $860 million per year. Projects include street repairs, highway improvements and new rail construction, including lines in the Sepulveda Pass and Van Nuys and extensions to Claremont and West Hollywood.

“We know Measure M will be a game changer for Los Angeles and we’re excited about its potential to enhance quality of life for the people of our region,” said Phillip A. Washington, CEO of LA Metro.

Voters in Marion County, Ind., will also consider a sales tax increase to raise an estimated $56 million per year. Transportation officials plan to improve the Indianapolis bus system, IndyGo. The agency would run more buses with shorter wait times, longer hours each day and more connections. The measure would also fund the rapid transit Red Line and develop two other BRT lines in Indianapolis.

Two different sales tax increases will be considered in Atlanta, Ga. One measure would fund Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) service expansions to improve bus service, offer new streetcar lines and build infill stations. The other measure would fund non-transit projects like street improvements and bike and pedestrian projects.

“When people vote to improve or expand the local public transit system, they are voting for an improved quality of life and for the economic vitality of their region,” said APTA Acting President Richard A. White.

APTA officials said every dollar invested in public transportation generates about $4 in economic returns. They also point to a new study that correlates public transit with reduced risk of automobile crashes.