Almost $14.6 million of Measure A funds were spent on North County transportation projects in the 2019-20 fiscal year, according to the annual report recently released by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments.
The expenditures bring the total amount of Measure A funds spent in the North County since the transportation sales tax was approved in 2008 to more than $157 million, according to the report.
Measure A revenues during the 2019-20 fiscal year totaled almost $66.2 million, which included a little more than $25.1 million carried over from previous years, almost $40.4 million in actual sales taxes, $425,083 in interest and $215,440 from other sources.
That brought the total income since voters approved the measure to more than $361.9 million.
Those figures compare to nearly $62.9 million in total revenue and just over $16 million spent on North County projects in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
The lion’s share of the money spent in the North County — almost $13 million — in 2019-20 went to local street and transportation improvement projects, according to the report, although there was no breakdown on individual projects.
However, the report highlighted how Guadalupe was the beneficiary of nearly $500,000 in funding for pedestrian improvements along Highway 1 that were completed in June 2020.
The city had been awarded $31,196 in Measure A Safe Routes to School funds in 2015, then used that as leverage to obtain another $401,000 in State Active Transportation Program funds from the California Transportation Commission in 2019 to cover construction costs, according to the report.
The project resulted in a new sidewalk along the east side of Guadalupe Street north of the Amtrak station and a crosswalk with flashing warning beacons at Fifth Street, the report said.
Improvements to the crosswalk at Guadalupe and Ninth streets included the addition of bulb-outs, and crosswalk improvements at Obispo and 10th streets provided increased safety for students at nearby Mary Buren Elementary School.
The second-highest expenditure was $856,127 that went to interregional transit programs.
Clean Air Express, connecting workers in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley to their jobs, continued to operate through the COVID-19 pandemic due to that funding, the report noted.
However, the report said, as many workplaces shifted to having employees working from remote locations, service levels were reduced to equal the lowered demand.
But early in the pandemic, enhanced daily cleaning of the buses was instituted by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, which manages the transit service, and passengers were required to wear masks.
The third-highest expense was $214,893 for Safe Routes to School bicycle and pedestrian projects, according to the report.
The city of Lompoc used $67,500 in Safe Routes to School funding to help cover the $85,000 cost to install curb ramps and fill in missing segments of sidewalk on Hickory Avenue in front of Lompoc Valley Middle School.
Another $173,130 was spent on specialized transit for seniors and the disabled, $171,643 went to safety improvements along Highway 166, and $89,849 was contributed to cover additional costs on the construction of passing lanes on Highway 246.
But SBCAG officials said they expect Caltrans will provide $2 million in reimbursement for the association’s expenses on that project.
The carpool and vanpool program received $67,012 of the North County Measure A funds, and $5,544 was used for preliminary work on each of two Highway 101 interchange projects in Santa Maria.
The money was allocated to a project to improve the North Broadway interchange and a planned new East McCoy Lane interchange, which will provide city residents with an additional freeway access point.
Preliminary work on the Santa Ynez River Bridge on Highway 246 cost $4,425, and another $1,106 was used on the Highway 101 interchange improvements at Betteravia Road in Santa Maria.
The Measure A annual report is required by the measures provisions, which also mandate that an independent citizens committee provide oversight on how the money is spent.
Members of the 2020 oversight committee included North County representatives Andy Caldwell, Chairman Mark Cheli, J. Lansing Duncan and Tomas Lopez; South Coast members Mark Bradley, Alyssa Hummer, Pat Saley and Dennis Story; and at-large members Phillip Green, Christy Nordgren and Geoffrey Slaff.