Guest Perspective by Carole Groom, Dave Pine and Rosanne Foust
San Mateo County and the entire Bay Area are experiencing one of the greatest economic expansions in at least a generation. San Mateo County’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and the Bay Area as whole is a global economic engine. But with that success, San Mateo County’s roads have become more congested than ever and our mass transit systems are under tremendous stress.
To keep our county a viable place to work and to live, we will need to make new investments to improve our transportation networks and to make up for long-deferred modernization of our transit system. And this will require that we do what San Mateo County always has done so well: work together, build consensus and unite behind broadly supported solutions.
San Mateo County is unique. Within its borders are 20 diverse cities and towns. There is no “big city” like San Francisco or San Jose to dominate the landscape. As a result, a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect among elected officials, the business community and community leaders has become our modus operandi.
In the past 40 years, we have worked together to create SamTrans, to save Caltrain, to extend BART down the Peninsula and to fund local and county transportation projects through the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.
Now, in the face of tremendous needs, a profound and unprecedented opportunity exists — a convergence of state, regional and local funding initiatives that could enable truly transformative transit improvements. Thankfully, our local state representatives — Senators Jerry Hill and Scott Weiner, and Assemblymen Kevin Mullin, Marc Berman and Phil Ting — are working side by side with Gov. Jerry Brown and Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly on a comprehensive transportation funding package for California announced just last week.
This transportation legislation targets funds specifically to reduce congestion on major commute corridors like Highway 101, one of the most dynamic economic environments in the nation. This priority would not be in the state’s proposal without the work of the Peninsula Mobility Group, a broad coalition of elected and community leaders, associations and private sector and government employers convened by the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, or SAMCEDA.