For Better Bicycling in Salt Lake City, Vote Yes on the 2018 Streets Reconstruction Bond

The Salt Lake City Streets Reconstruction Bond will result in more bike infrastructure

Editorial: November 3, 2018 – Salt Lake City has the ‘Streets Reconstruction Bond‘ on the ballot for the November 6, 2018 election. The bond would authorize $87 million for Salt Lake City to use to rebuild its ailing streets. According to Salt Lake City's Funding Our Future website, two thirds of Salt Lake City's streets are in a state of such disrepair that reconstruction is the only option. Streets would be reconstructed with an eye towards road condition and the dovetail with master plans (Transportation (soon to be updated), Transit, Bike/Pedestrian, and others). 80 percent of the streets chosen would be heavier used, arterial and collector type streets, while 20 percent would be neighborhood type streets.

Bike lane! Salt Lake has made huge progress over the last decade. We need to accelerate the efforts. Photo by Dave Iltis

The funds from the bond would be added to those generated from the recent 0.5% sales tax increase, which will add approximately $33 million/year to the general fund, and a portion of this will be for Salt Lake City's streets. This is expected to be $6.9 million in 2019. The rest of the sales tax increase would go towards housing, transit, and the hiring of more officers of the peace.

Ballot Language:

SPECIAL BOND ELECTION
Streets Reconstruction Bond

Shall Salt Lake City, Utah, be authorized to issue General Obligation Bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $87,000,000 and to mature in no more than 21 years from the date or dates of issuance; such bonds will be issued in accordance with Utah law solely to pay all or a portion of the costs to improve various streets and roads throughout the City and related infrastructure improvements.

For cyclists, the Bond could be a boon since with each reconstruction or repavement of a roadway, bike lanes and other bike infrastructure are generally added in accordance with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Mater Plan 2015 Update. Additionally, according to Salt Lake City's Complete Streets Ordinance, when a roadway is reconstructed (note: reconstruction is a complete rebuild and may not apply to repaving or resurfacing projects), unless there is a large monetary factor, bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure need to be added.

While we have written previously on the need for more vision in the Funding Our Future process, we do whole-heartedly support the Bond. The Salt Lake City Council is currently working on an update to the loophole ridden Complete Streets Ordinance (it can be construed to only apply to reconstructed streets, and not repaving or restriping projects). We are hopeful that the update will be a good one, and that it won't allow failures such as Mayor Biskupski's overriding of bike lanes and a road diet on the repaved 2100 S or Mayor Becker's lack of attention to 100 S and 700 S when they were repaved or the ambiguity on 1300 E between 1300 S and 2100 S.

Salt Lake City has a number of existing and impending master plans that should ensure wise implementation of the Bond and sales tax monies. Existing are the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan and the recently passed Transit Master Plan, Impending is an update to the decades old Transportation Master Plan; funding for which recently passed as part of the 2018-2019 CIP funding. We trust that the new Transporation Master Plan will follow progressive 21st century concepts that will modernize Salt Lake City's transportation infrastructure; and that as a result, the Bond will help to modernize our streets. (Note that we have written a draft plan for a Sustainable, People First Transportation Plan for Salt Lake City).

With the guidance of the various plans, and the expected update to the Complete Streets Ordinance and the Transportation Master Plan, combined with the need to repair our failing streets, the Streets Reconstruction Bond will result in more bike infrastructure.

We strongly encourage all cyclists to vote yes on Salt Lake City's 2018 Streets Reconstruction Bond.

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