SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors president Dave Cortese took part in a rally at San Jose State University Thursday to urge Congress to renew a $105 billion national transportation bill that expires next month.
Liccardo and Cortese stood with other local city and county officials beside an articulated bus with a billboard reading “Stand Up for Transportation” to serve as a backdrop for a similar rally with officials from all over the Bay Area that was planned in San Francisco at 1 p.m.
Both rallies are part of a nationwide public campaign, Stand Up for Transportation Day, including more than 50 mayors and 300 organizations in more than 150 cities in 40 states calling on Congress to vote to revive funding in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, a federal transportation bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 that ceases on May 31.
The Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association, which is sponsoring the national campaign, reported Thursday that the country needs about $160 billion in funds to repair its public transit and road systems.
In San Jose, city officials complained that many of its roadways are in bad shape, with needed repairs costing an estimated $500 million, and that a proposed multi-billion-dollar extension for the BART commuter train system requires federal money if it is to reach downtown San Jose.
“I’m here to say we’re stuck in traffic, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore, right?” Liccardo said to about 50 people at the rally outside the university’s Event Center Arena on the campus.
Liccardo said Santa Clara County voters have already passed four tax measures to raise money to back transportation projects and improvements.
“Because we stand up here in Silicon Valley, that’s how Silicon Valley rolls,” he said. “We look to the future, we have the vision to invest in the future. And we need a Congress that has the same vision that we have in Silicon Valley. So, we’re here to stand up and to tell Congress that if you want to achieve what we have achieved here in the valley, you’ve got to invest with us.”
Cortese, who is chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that oversees transportation-related planning, funding and management for the Bay Area’s nine counties, said that he recently visited Washington with other transit officials to discuss ideas on boosting funding, but Congress still has not acted.
“With the national economy back on track and the Bay Area economy shifting into high gear, our country simply cannot afford to keep doing business in the old, outdated way,” he said. “We need a surface transportation program that will fuel strong growth of years to come.”
“There was a time and it wasn’t all that long ago when Congress routinely tackled transportation funding head-on, but for the past several years, that routine has become polarization,” he said.
“The trust fund supports both highway and public transit investment, but it’s now six weeks away from being out of cash,” he said. “We must tell our leaders in Washington that this is unacceptable.”
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which manages public buses and light-rail trains in the county, passed out flyers at the rally asking people to post messages and photos on major social media sites favoring the “Stand Up” campaign and to send emails to U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda.
Cortese was expected to attend the 1 p.m. rally in downtown San Francisco at the Temporary Transbay Terminal, with leaders from Alameda-Contra Costa Transit, BART, Caltrans, California High Speed Rail Authority and transportation commissions from Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
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