Transportation

Traffic Jams

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October 26  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Traffic Jams: they can sour every trip we take in Santa Clara County.

That’s why we support Measure B. Like a jigsaw puzzle, Measure B puts all the pieces together for a sweeter commute:

* First, we finish the job on BART, bringing it to East San Jose, San Jose State, the SAP Center and all the way to Santa Clara University.

* Second, we link BART with an electrified Caltrain, at the SAP Center and across the street from Santa Clara University, for rapid rail around the entire Bay Area.

* Third, we ensure seniors, the disabled, students and working families have the lifeline and core transit service they deserve.

* Fourth, we build bicycle and pedestrian improvements, especially near our schools, including our 10 universities and colleges.

* Fifth, we improve highway interchanges and all 10 County Expressways.

* Finally, one of every five dollars fills potholes in all 15 cities and towns.

Traffic jams have turned our commute sour. Measure B makes them sweet again.

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We Need an Army, Not an Audience

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August 31  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino
Lawrence traffic

Lawrence Expressway

Here’s food for thought . . . In Silicon Valley, we don’t need an audience, we need an army.

On Tuesday, it took me 60 minutes to travel seven miles on Lawrence Expressway.

And I was in the carpool lane. It’s past time that we stopped fuming, and starting fixing the traffic congestion problems that plague our daily commutes.

It makes me more motivated than ever about our three-plus year effort to pass Measure B, for Better Commutes and Better Roads. Designed by traffic engineers and transportation professionals, Measure B will have a Game-Changing impact on key corridors like Lawrence, which will go from a “Level of Service F,” – near gridlock in the a.m. and p.m. commutes – to “Level of Service A” – near free-flow – throughout the day.

Please, learn more at YesMeasureB.com.

But back to our need for an army, not an audience, if Measure B is to be successful on November 8. In Silicon Valley, in our community, we don’t need an “audience” –

>> An audience is interested; but an army is involved
>> An audience sits back; while an army stands up
>> An audience puts others down; while an army lifts others up

Join me. Enlist today. Contact me directly at 408-501-7864, or visit YesMeasureB.com. Let’s get Silicon Valley moving again.

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I am now “High” on High-Speed Rail

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February 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . I’m now “high” on High-Speed Rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is poised to pivot, adjusting their work-plan to come first to San Jose and Silicon Valley, rather than building first toward Los Angeles.

Why does this matter? For Silicon Valley commuters, this is a convergence of commute alternatives in-tune with the innovation economy:

First, High-Speed Rail between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley, linking Fresno in 1 hour, Merced in 45 minutes and Gilroy in just 15.

Second, with our efforts to electrify Caltrain where High-Speed Rail and Caltrain will converge in Downtown San Jose, we will double the number of people who can use Caltrain on a daily basis, from 60,000 to 120,000 daily trips.

Third, the BART extension to downtown San Jose, connecting with High-Speed Rail and Caltrain, means rapid rail throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

For those balancing housing costs with horrific commutes, High-Speed Rail to San Jose is also a game changer. For that teacher, fire fighter or police officer working in an expensive Silicon Valley city, a home in Gilroy is suddenly a 15-minute commute. Merced? Just 45 minutes.

Silicon Valley is a land of opportunity for many. High-Speed Rail, linked with electrified Caltrain and BART to downtown San Jose, expands that opportunity for tens of thousands of citizens for quicker commutes and more affordable homes.

Let’s build.

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Pothole 1, Prius 0

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February 4  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Pothole and PriusHere’s food for thought . . . . Pothole 1, Prius 0.

On Wednesday morning, I had one of those “is this happening to me” moments, while traveling to Sacramento for meetings with some top legislative leaders – ironically, to discuss transportation funding for road maintenance and pothole repairs.

After descending the Altamont Pass, driving between two rather large trucks in the center lane, my back right tire literally blew up after hitting an especially bumpy patch of road. As my car pulled in one direction closer to the semi-truck to my right, I was able to get around the truck and over two lanes onto a very narrow shoulder before my car became inoperable.

AAA was/is awesome, but it was a 90-minute wait until the tow truck arrived, as it was hard to pinpoint precisely where I was – until technology stepped in by using Waze to better direct the tow truck driver to my location. Thanks Google!

I was lucky that I didn’t get into a serious accident. And I had a wonderful surprise when – after reading my tweet about the blow-out – East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwellasked if he or his staff could be of help. Now THAT is constituent service.

The incident with the pothole was a visceral reminder as to why California needs to get serious about better maintaining our 50,000 miles of state highways, 15,000 bridges and our extensive local street and road network. It also reinforces why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group believes any future local transportation ballot measure in November must include funds to repair and maintain our roads.

San Jose Mayor Liccardo jokes that potholes in San Jose have been “re-purposed” into “traffic calming devices,” and I often joke that with El Niño, our potholes can be used for neighborhood swimming pools. On Wednesday morning, the joke was on me – and my wallet – after shelling out $500 for new tires and roadside assistance.

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Failing to plan is planning to fail

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December 23  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Nearly 200 executives from 120 member companies of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group gathered on Dec. 16 at Santa Clara University to debate and decide our 2016 action plan to strengthen our region and state’s economy and to improve the quality of life for our employees, their families and the broader community.

Top of the list: Traffic. As we have successfully accomplished 4 times in 3 decades, the Leadership Group is once again willing to lead efforts in Santa Clara County for a transportation funding measure in November of 2016 to finalize the BART extension, double the capacity of Caltrain Commuter Rail Service, improve basic transit service for seniors, students, workers and the disabled, improve bike and pedestrian facilities – especially near schools, ease traffic congestion on all eight county expressways (Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon and San Tomas); key highway interchanges on 101, 85, 87, 280 and 237, and to fill potholes and maintain streets in all 15 cities and towns.

A recent “call for projects” by the Valley Transportation Authority identified $47.8 billion in transportation funding needs. At most, a transportation measure will generate $6 billion over 30 years. Like we all do with our family budgets, this means setting priorities to build a system of transportation improvements that provides relief throughout the County, identifies specific improvements and offers the accountability that we, as taxpayers, deserve. Interested in helping? Contact the Leadership Group. Gridlock might describe our nation’s politics, but it doesn’t have to describe our local roads and highways.

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Reform and Revenue for California Roads

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August 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino
Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino speaks at a news conference about transportation with California Governor Jerry Brown and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins on August 19, 2015. Photo Courtesy: (Assembly Democratic Caucus)

Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino speaks at a news conference about transportation with California Governor Jerry Brown and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins on August 19, 2015. (Photo: Assembly Democratic Caucus)

Here’s food for thought … It’s hard to drive Silicon Valley’s economy with your employees stalled in Silicon Valley traffic.

I had the pleasure to share the podium with California Governor Jerry Brown and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins on Wednesday to underscore the urgency for new transportation funding for California.

With 23 days (and counting) left in this legislative session we need a bi-partisan solution to fix the cracks and potholes that have become emblematic of California’s crumbling highways and our local streets and roads.

We need a combination of reform and revenue. Reform to ensure every current transportation dollar is spent wisely and effectively. Revenue because we know the 10-year gap in transportation priorities and available funding is nearly $300 billion.

For Republican legislators looking for necessary reform, casting a vote for new revenue can be difficult. For Democrats looking for revenue, some of the necessary reforms can be a tough vote. Yet, this is our “Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid” moment. “I will jump if you jump.”

And here is the good news: Butch and Sundance survived the jump. And if legislators jump together, they will not only survive, but the road improvements will help California thrive.

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Traffic Woes: Solutions that Unite Us

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December 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … While there’s some value in columns that divide us, it’s much more satisfying to work on solutions that can unite us.

San Jose Mercury News’ recent column from Michelle Quinn about “The Commute That Divides Us” is a great example. The region’s traffic woes and lack of transit options have led many proactive employers to personally fund shuttle buses for employees. Those shuttle buses daily remove thousands of cars off our roads and tens of thousands of Greenhouse Gases from our atmosphere. Instead of applauding those efforts, they’re often attacked.

Let’s all acknowledge the more holistic solution is for true transportation solutions in our region. That’s why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has personally led four successful transportation funding measures in the past three decades, providing $10 billion in locally funded improvements that we all pay for and all benefit from. It’s also why we’ve indicated our willingness to help lead a new measure in 2016, to benefit all residents. Traffic relief, cleaner air, construction jobs, stronger economy. It adds up to transportation solutions that unite us. Now that’s worth writing about.

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Timing is Everything

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June 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Timing is everything; especially in elections.

Let’s face it; Silicon Valley traffic is terrible, and the conditions of our roads in most of our cities are even worse.

We need to fix our road and transit networks, and we need to do it now.

Yet we live in a democracy, and a democracy that requires a two-thirds vote for local tax increases.

As private citizens, the members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have led four successful transportation sales tax campaigns in the past 30 years, generating more than $12 billion dollars in vital transportation improvements.

We are willing to help lead such an effort again – but this is where timing comes in. Based on the dismal voter turnout in the June 3 primary election, bringing out a record low number of voters, we now expect a very low turnout this November. Low turnouts do not bode well for transportation funding measures, so the Leadership Group Board has made the painful decision to wait – made more painful by the fact that our employees and families are waiting in traffic jams that need to be addressed. Our original goal was a potential measure in November of 2016, the next presidential election. That is once again our goal.

If you are as frustrated with traffic as we are – join us. Contact me at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Together, we have led measures that built Highway 85, improved Highways 237 and 101, are building the BART extension and funded key improvements for Caltrain Commuter Rail. We have a record of collective success, but much more work to do. Together, in 2016, we can do it.

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Traffic Relief

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April 25  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If you don’t ask, you don’t know.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group commissions a professional survey of 600 likely Silicon Valley voters. As a policy organization consisting of nearly 400 CEOs and senior officers, it is important for us to understand if the concerns expressed in board rooms are similar to the concerns conveyed in our employee’s living rooms.

Our most recent survey was completed on April 13. We asked voters for their views on housing and homelessness, traffic and transportation, education and the economy, taxes and fees. The responses underscored, in this visionary Valley, that voters still want to invest in making our communities better. This was clearly conveyed in the questions about transportation.

  • When voters were asked if they would once again tax themselves for specific transportation improvements:
  • More than 2/3 said YES for Phase II of the BART extension, from Berryessa to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.
  • More than 2/3 said YES for Caltrain commuter rail improvements from Gilroy to Palo Alto.
  • More than 2/3 said YES for street maintenance and pothole repairs in all 15 cities and towns.
  • More than 2/3 said YES to improve all eight county expressways: Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon, San Tomas.
  • More than 2/3 said YES to bike and pedestrian improvements, especially near schools.
  • And more than 2/3 said YES to transit services for seniors and the disabled.

Our question – which will have to be thoughtfully considered by all stakeholders – is simple: Is the timing right to invest again?

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Downtown San Jose, Spur to Action

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March 19  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . When it comes to strengthening downtown San Jose, it is time we are spurred to action.

And thanks to a recent report by the civic group appropriately named SPUR, we have renewed reasons to focus on the future of downtown San Jose.

As the report shows, the key is to get more people into downtown San Jose to fill it with vibrancy and life. Downtown streets are packed episodically – for the Jazz Festival, our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot or Sharks games, for example – but on a day-to-day basis it still lacks the density of other downtowns, including regional neighbors like Oakland and San Francisco:

  • With roughly 36,000 jobs, downtown San Jose has less than half the employment of downtown Oakland – with more than 80,000 jobs – and less than one-eighth that of downtown San Francisco – with more than 300,000 jobs.
  • Downtown San Jose is home to less than 14,000 residents, just over half the number in downtown Oakland – with 23,000 residents – and about one-fourth of the residents in downtown San Francisco – with nearly 56,000 residents.

So what should we do about it?

  • First, focus on high-quality urban design and dense development of all kinds in downtown. This will not only result in a more connected, attractive place, it also encourages walking, biking and transit.
  • Second, maximize regional transit investments by holding sites adjacent to BART and Caltrain stations for job-generating uses. This is the best way to ensure high transit ridership and allow for the vibrancy and density downtown San Jose needs without causing gridlock.
  • Third, downtown San Jose is already the cultural, entertainment and creative urban center of the South Bay. Build on this strength by making it easier to start creative businesses and activate the streets and other public spaces.

Reports are great. Eliciting action is even better. Let’s use this report to spur action. Let’s build a downtown worthy of Silicon Valley.

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