Community

Support Transportation Fund

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

In the midst of a pandemic, it is critical for voters in Bellingham to understand that renewal of the Bellingham Transportation Fund will support our community’s recovery efforts. This fund is an investment in local jobs and strategic transportation projects to keep Bellingham moving forward. This is why we will be voting “Yes” on Nov. 3 in support of Proposition 2020-14.

For our families, the Transportation Fund ensures safe options for our children whether walking to school, riding their bikes to the park, exploring the city on the bus, or navigating the streets as a new driver. Our transportation system is a lifeline to keep us connected to grocery stores, work, school, church, medical services and recreation. This fund has been indispensable for repaving our streets, building new sidewalks, trails and bicycle paths, and supporting public transit to keep our entire community safe and mobile. This fund also looks to the future with investments in vehicle electrification and projects aligned with our City’s environmental goals. Renewal of the Transportation Fund is essential to keep Bellingham a great place to live, work and play.

In 2010, voters overwhelmingly approved the Transportation Fund (originally known as the Transportation Benefit District). At that time, in the midst of a recession, Bellingham voters understood how vital a reliable transportation system is to the overall health of the community. Over the past 10 years, this fund has delivered timely, cost-effective transportation improvements across our City and created jobs at every step along the way. Furthermore, projects are bundled for cost-effectiveness to include curb ramps, sidewalks, bikeways, and curb extensions.

These improvements have included more than 45 miles of street paving to prevent more costly replacement. Throughout Bellingham, new infrastructure included 72 pedestrian projects, from sidewalks and crosswalks to disabled-accessible curb ramps; 52 miles of bicycle facilities; and capital projects to improve reliable bus service. In addition, local matching funds leveraged an additional $4.3 million in competitive state and federal grants such as the Safe Routes to School program.

Perhaps most importantly, improvements have focused on equity with emphasis given to projects in low-income and public-transit-dependent communities. A full 70 percent of projects for safe access to transit and nonmotorized improvements were built in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods, which are often neglected in other cities.

It is time to renew this crucial funding. In the midst of financial hardship, our local government must continue to focus on cost-effective and equitable investments to support small businesses, essential workers, families, children and seniors. You and everyone in Bellingham rely on the improvements provided by the Transportation Fund.

Furthermore, transportation investments will help fuel our economic recovery and create local jobs in the aftermath of the pandemic. All of the Transportation Fund projects have been completed by local contractors from Whatcom or Skagit counties. Renewal of the Transportation Fund equates to an estimated $60 million investment in Bellingham over the next 10 years, a number that is multiplied by matching state and federal funds. These funds are an investment in our community, our workforce and our future.

Specifically, these funds would be used to support transportation improvements contained in the city’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). These include an annual street pavement resurfacing program; nonmotorized transportation improvements; and a climate action plan along with Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) transit plan improvements.

To learn more, the City of Bellingham has developed a story map available online at cob.org/TransportationFund. This story map outlines the improvements made by the Transportation Fund over the past 10 years.

To support Neighbors for Bellingham Transportation Fund, visit BellinghamTransportationFund.org and sign up to volunteer or make a financial donation to the campaign.

Please join us and vote “Yes” on Nov. 3. Your vote in support of Proposition 2020-14 is an investment in local jobs and an investment in safe and strategic transportation improvements to keep Bellingham moving forward.

Michael Lilliquist, Bellingham City Council Member (Ward 6); Hannah Stone, Bellingham City Council Member (Ward 1)

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