Measure U sales tax hits the roads, too

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – In deciding the fate of Measure U on Election Day, Nov. 8, voters may also decide the fate of many local roadways.

The measure would increase sales tax in Humboldt County by a half of a cent for 20 years, which would generate an estimated $200 million.

That money would be split up among the members of the Humboldt County Association of Governments, which includes all the cities in Humboldt as well as the county itself. The association is responsible for transportation plans and doles out local transportation funds.

The sales tax revenue would have to be used for roads improvements, trails, bridges and other transportation infrastructure and maintenance.

The entity receiving the most tax revenues from the measure, if it passes, would be the County of Humboldt, with an estimated haul of nearly $86 million over 20 years. Eureka would receive about $65 million, Arcata $22.8 million, Fortuna nearly $15 million, Rio Dell $3.7 million, Ferndale $2.7 million, Blue Lake $1.9 million and Trinidad $1.8 million.

The cities would be allowed to use their funds however they see fit, as long as its for transportation projects.

The county has developed a five-year plan on how it hopes to spend its share of the money. Each year, the plan will be updated to include an additional year.

If the measure passes, the first thing the County of Humboldt hopes to do is to patch up its neglected roadways to keep them from further deteriorating. The county has a road maintenance backlog estimated at $200 million, so it has plenty of work to do.

In the first four years, there would be a massive amount of slurry sealing or chip sealing, depending on conditions, of long-neglected rural county roads, including Maple Creek Road, Shelter Cove Road and Alderpoint Road. About 90 miles of roads all over the county would be repaired.

Both Westhaven and McKinleyville would see major improvements in 2021. Large portions of Westhaven Drive, as well as Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue in Westhaven, would be repaired and coated with a slurry seal in 2021.

Similar treatment would be applied to the west end of School Road, Ocean Drive, Wavecrest Avenue, Taves Avenue, Cottonwood Avenue, Halfway Avenue, Cliff Avenue, Little Pond Street and Cochran Road.

The county’s Department of Public Works would use about $300,000 of the revenue to cover a deficit at the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport in McKinleyville.

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