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Los Altos roads to benefit from VTA Measure B funds

San Antonio Road
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Funds allocated through Measure B will be used to improve congested stretches of Foothill Expressway, affecting traffic flow in intersections like the one with San Antonio Road, above.

The recent release of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority funding from Measure B’s half-cent sales tax could mean more than $1.5 million over two years headed to Los Altos for city road repairs and maintenance. Additional funds will go toward improvements along Interstate 280 and Foothill Expressway in Los Altos.

VTA officials celebrated the end of legal opposition to the 2016 voter-approved initiative last month with the report that funds can now be used on a range of projects, from a BART extension into downtown San Jose to lane expansion on Foothill Expressway and filling potholes on city streets. Los Altos City Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, also an ex-officio VTA board member, was on hand Jan. 30 to accept a $138,274 “advance” for Los Altos road fixes. Los Altos Hills received $37,843 for its advance and Mountain View’s totaled $353,498.

“After this initial advance, funding for the remainder of local streets and roads projects will come in the form of reimbursements once those projects get underway in the respective cities and the county,” said VTA spokeswoman Holly Perez.

Perez said Los Altos has been allocated $571,706 annually for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Plans to overhaul Foothill Expressway, with expanded auto and bike lanes, and modified interchanges, also are included in Measure B funding, though that project’s timeline is still subject to a decision by the county’s Expressway Policy Advisory Board.

“That prioritization has not yet occurred, so we cannot say when this project will move forward,” Perez said.

In the highway program category, $3.5 million in Measure B funds for the 2018-2019 fiscal year have been allocated to northbound Interstate 280 for a second exit lane to Foothill Expressway.

The Los Altos City Council has yet to decide specifically how Measure B funding for local roads will be spent and when.

“We are currently building our five-year Capital Improvement Project budget and plan to discuss with council,” said Sharif Etman, administrative services director.

He said all funding, including updated Measure B funds and Capital Improvement projects, is scheduled for discussion during a March 26 council study session.

After being approved with 72 percent of the vote in 2016, Measure B’s funding was frozen for nearly two years while a Saratoga resident challenged the validity of the initiative in court. Opponents appealed to the state Supreme Court, which refused to grant a hearing, effectively ending the challenge and releasing the funding. VTA had collected $360 million thus far of the $6.3 billion, 30-year sales tax, which it had put into an escrow account during the court challenge.

To learn more about Measure B, visit vta.org/measure-b-2016.

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