In Utah, Bipartisan Cooperation Yields Comprehensive Transportation Package

T4America Blog takes an in-depth look at the transportation funding law passed by the legislature in March 2015, designed to help the Beehive State stay ahead of its continuing population boom.

Reports Michael Russell:

Supporters cheered the bill’s passage in March, but there are still important hurdles to clear to reach the bill’s full potential. The bill could raise an additional $124 million annually for transportation if adopted by all Utah counties. Groups like the Utah League of Cities and Towns are embarking on public education campaigns in the counties that are placing local sales tax questions on their November ballots.

St. George, a city in the southwest corner of Utah, recently passed a resolution asking their home county to put the sales tax on the November ballot. And according to the Salt Lake Tribune, 15 of 16 cities in Salt Lake County — the state’s most populous county, which also includes Salt Lake City — have passed resolutions urging the county council to put the local option sales tax on the ballot this year.

The mayor of that county, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, knows how important investing in Utah’s transportation is, especially since his region is the most populated in the state:

“We want to have a visionary approach to transport, where we look into the future and forecast what our region is going to look like. We know that a transit-oriented future will improve quality of life, save tax dollars, and really help us develop the kind of community we want to live in. That all takes forethought and planning.”

This year’s move by the legislature was a triumph of bipartisan cooperation and compromise, undergirded by the clear vision for investment that local leaders and civic groups have bought into. As a result of their successful work, the state will see an increase in transportation funding in 2015, but we’ll be watching especially closely this November as Utah counties join countless others in deciding measures at the ballot to also raise new local money for transportation.