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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Voters approve 23 transportation ballot measures


On Tuesday, voters approved 23 of the 32 transportation-related measures, authorizing about $75 billion worth of transportation expenditures.

The three largest ballot initiatives passed: a $10 billion statewide bond measure in California to provide initial financing for a high-speed rail system; a half-cent sales tax in Los Angeles County that will provide $40 billion over 30 years for transit and road projects; and a sales tax increase in the Seattle region to fund $17.8 billion worth of transit projects over the next 20 years

Other successful measures included: a quarter-cent sales tax increase  in California's Sonoma and Marin counties to fund a passenger-rail system between Cloverdale and Larkspur; a continuation of the existing quarter-cent sales tax in Sacramento that could be used in part to fund a streetcar system; approval of Honolulu's proposed $3.7 billion, 20-mile elevated commuter-rail line; and an eighth-cent gross receipts tax increase in New Mexico's Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Santa Fe counties, half of which will be dedicated to the Rail Runner Express commuter-rail system.

Voters in Missouri weren't as supportive of transit-rail projects. In Kansas City, a 25-year, three-eighths-cent sales tax measure that would have funded a 14-mile light-rail system failed. In St. Louis, voters also shot down a half-cent sales tax increase to support mass transit, including maintenance and expansion of the MetroLink system.

Meanwhile, an eighth-cent sales tax increase that could help fund a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension to the Silicon Valley still is too close to call. Final results will not be known until all absentee and provisional ballots have been counted.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/6/2008