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Traffic and transportation

“The need for action on traffic congestion is immediate and obvious. We need a countywide approach and we can’t really be parochial about it. On the other hand, it’s entirely understandable that folks in every part of the county are going to be asking themselves ‘what’s in it for us?"

—Supervisor Simitian

Countywide relief for traffic congestion

In 2016 Supervisor Simitian supported Measure B, a one half-cent sales tax for transportation projects to address the County’s traffic congestion. But his support came with two important conditions: a cap on the portion of proceeds funding BART to San Jose (which had swallowed up 80% of sales tax revenues over the past twenty years); and, meaningful congestion relief on a countywide basis. Because of Supervisor Simitian’s efforts Measure B was crafted to do both, and was ultimately approved by 72% of the voters.

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Valley Transportation Authority & Measure B

In 2020, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) announced that most of the Measure B half-cent sales tax increase over the next ten years would go toward extending BART further into San Jose at the expense of other transportation projects that would benefit residents elsewhere in the County. Contending that the plan failed to mitigate traffic congestion and undermined public trust, Supervisor Simitian introduced a resolution opposing VTA's proposed scenario, which was unanimously supported by the County Board of Supervisors. The approved resolution called on the VTA Board of Directors, of which he was a sitting member, to support a new plan to distribute funds more evenly over the next decade among all nine transportation programs, thereby ensuring Countywide benefits as promised in the 2016 ballot measure. That goal was achieved at the December 2021 VTA Board of Directors meeting.

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RYDE: On-demand transportation for seniors in West Valley

Too many seniors in Saratoga, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Campbell and Monte Sereno were stuck in their homes and couldn’t make their way to see family, friends or get to a doctor’s appt. To help solve that problem Supervisor Simitian proposed RYDE (Reach Your Destination Easily) offering residents in those five West Valley communities an affordable ride using needs-based sliding scale pricing. Through a joint agreement between the County, VTA, and the five participating cities, local non-profits host the program, keeping costs low by using both volunteers and commercial driving services. The RYDE program has since been expanded to Morgan Hill and some zip codes in San Jose.

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Bus Rapid Transit on El Camino Real

In 2010, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) proposed a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project for El Camino Real, from San Jose to Palo Alto. VTA’s preferred design would have reduced car traffic lanes from three to two in each direction using the median lanes for buses only, in an effort to reduce bus travel times on the corridor. As a member of the Policy Advisory Board convened for the project, Supervisor Simitian raised concerns about the project's estimated cost of $233 million and its impact on traffic, all in pursuit of uncertain increases in bus ridership decades in the future.

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Safe routes to school

Students from Los Altos, Cupertino and Sunnyvale walking or bicycling on the busy Homestead Road corridor face challenging street conditions along their route to school. Supervisor Simitian led the effort to develop a plan for additional on-street safety improvements that required a multi-jurisdictional approach to solving the problem. In June 2020, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority approved $1.17 million for environmental clearance and design, the next step in the process of constructing the improvements.

At Supervisor Simitian's urging the County also installed detection systems at high student-traffic intersections that give pedestrians and bicyclists additional time to cross the street, most recently for five intersections on Foothill Expressway.

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Almaden Valley intersection improvements

An improvement project at the intersection of Almaden Expressway and Camden Avenue in San Jose was approved in mid-2022. In supporting the Board's approval of the project, Supervisor Simitian highlighted the community’s concerns about this stretch of expressway and advocated for speedy delivery of planned improvements.

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Addressing community safety via a speed limit extension

In response to concerns raised by Los Gatos residents, the County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to extend the 30-mph speed limit between Thompson Road and Highway 17 Frontage Road. In support of this action, Supervisor Simitian, who represents the area, commended both the community and County staff for their efforts in improving public safety.

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Reducing traffic congestion while enhancing bicycle safety

The County Board of Supervisors, with support from Supervisor Simitian, paved the way for safety improvements at the intersection of Page Mill Road and Hanover Street, a major Palo Alto intersection.

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County expressway safety measures

A proponent of investing in smart technologies to lighten the traffic burden on our roadways, Supervisor Simitian has supported a number of measures designed to improve conditions for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on three County expressways.

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Foothill Expressway safety upgrades

With the goal of creating safer intersections for pedestrians, Supervisor Simitian supported a project on Foothill Expressway (located in the district he represents) designed to improve pedestrian safety, especially for children and seniors.

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Continuing efforts to reduce distracted driving

As a State Senator, Supervisor Simitian authored multiple bills to combat distracted driving, thus improving traffic safety and preventing the unnecessary loss of lives. He has continued to advocate for safe driving habits since coming to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

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Reid-Hillview Airport

In 2021, Supervisor Simitian joined his Board colleagues in unanimously voting to eliminate lead exposure from operations at Reid-Hillview Airport, and to explore prohibiting the sale or use of leaded fuel.

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Airplane noise

In 2015, as a result of the FAA’s implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, South Bay communities began complaining that aircraft noise levels had increased dramatically. The Select Committee on South Bay Arrivals, convened by local members of Congress in spring 2016 and led by Supervisor Simitian, solicited input from the community and experts, and subsequently issued a report with 47 recommendations to mitigate noise. The FAA implemented some of the recommendations. One of the Committee's major recommendations, to establish a permanent entity to address aircraft noise issues and provide a forum for community input, came to fruition in February 2019 with the inaugural meeting of The Santa Clara | Santa Cruz Community Roundtable. Unfortunately, that body ceased operation as of December 31, 2021. At present, the only community roundtable in operation is the SFO Airport/Community Roundtable.

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