Fresno

As battle for road funds rages, Measure C launches 2022 campaign

Supporters of a Measure C extension are busy drafting a game plan and putting together a team to make it a success.

The Fresno County Transportation Authority’s board has hired a consulting firm to help place Measure C’s renewal on the 2022 ballot.

The board on Oct. 30 approved a contract for $350,000 with Fresno-based VRPA Technologies to get the ball rolling on the Measure C campaign. The amount includes a small contingency fund. The contract would extend through the 2022 Fiscal Year. There’s a provision for a one-year extension if necessary.

Measure C is the countywide half-cent sales tax devoted to transportation projects. Better than two-thirds of voters approved the tax in the late 1980s. Voters approved a 20-year extension of Measure C in 2006, with 78% of those going to the polls giving the extension a thumb’s up. The extension needed two-thirds approval.

The Transportation Authority’s Request for Proposal included a list of services that the winning consultant must provide. This list gives the public a good look at the Transportation Authority’s game plan for the 2022 campaign. Among the list’s highlights:

1.) “Initiate and coordinate stakeholder interviews to determine the public’s knowledge of past Measure C projects and programs, and the public’s view of outstanding transportation and mobility needs.”

2.) “Assist in the formation of a Measure C Renewal Steering Committee made up of agency representatives and community stakeholders which will provide input and guidance and have the primary responsibility to develop a draft and final expenditure plan for the Measure C Extension.”

3.) “Assist in the procurement and selection of a polling firm or firms, and in the development of a polling program designed to evaluate the public’s view of outstanding transportation and mobility needs within Fresno County, and to determine their willingness to continue the Measure C sales tax in order to fund priority transportation projects and programs.”

The Oct. 30 report from FCTA Executive Director Mike Leonardo to the board emphasizes the importance of a Measure C Renewal Steering Committee. Leonardo also had high praise for the work of VRPA.

Leonardo wrote: “VRPA has a long history of assisting FCTA and FCOG (Fresno Council of Governments) in Measure and other transportation related efforts and were key to the success of the 2006 renewal effort. As she did in 2006, Georgiena Vivian, the firm’s principal, will lead this 2022 renewal effort for VRPA.”

The 2022 Measure C campaign appears to be blessed with good timing. One of the challenges will be reminding voters of the good things that the half-cent sales tax is doing for them. It turns out that the next few years should be full of news on the progress of a high-profile project that Measure C funds are supporting in a big way.

Veterans Boulevard is a six-lane super arterial roadway connecting Herndon Avenue and Shaw Avenue in Northwest Fresno that has long been on the drawing board. The big hurdle has been getting enough money to build the road.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that the Veterans Boulevard Project will receive a $10.5 million BUILD Grant. All the money is now in place. The dirt can begin to fly.

Republican Congressman Devin Nunes said in an official statement: “Today’s announcement that Fresno will be awarded a $10.5 million BUILD Grant is fantastic news for the Central Valley. The Grant will reduce congestion at the Veterans Boulevard Interchange and better connect the Valley’s rural communities with Fresno. I commend Mayor Lee Brand and the City of Fresno for pursuing this crucial improvement to our infrastructure, and I thank Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for making this project a priority.”

Mayor Brand said in an official statement: “This is wonderful news for Fresno, as this is the final funding piece of a $120 million project to connect western and eastern segments of the city.  Thank you to Congressman Nunes and everyone who has helped to make this very necessary and important project a reality.”

Measure C money is funding a huge chunk of the Veterans Boulevard bill.

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.