If you’re a voter in St. Louis County, please remember to vote for Prop A at the polls tomorrow, Tuesday, April 6. Naturally, I’m in favor, because I prefer to take mass transit whenever possible. I commute with Metrolink, use it to go downtown to ballgames and bars, and I even do part of my grocery shopping using the train. I’d like to expand the range of possibilities to which I can travel without a car.
But it’s not just about me, especially since I live in St. Louis City, where the tax for Metrolink expansion was approved years ago. (We’re waiting for the same proposition to pass in the county so that it will go into effect in both counties.) If you’re a commuter inside the county, an expanded Metro system will take cars off the road and ease up traffic for you. If you’re an employer, Metrolink expansion means a broader pool of potential employees who can commute to your workplace. And for people across the region, it means cleaner air from reduced emissions.
It’s hard to take seriously the ravings of Prop A opponents like John Burns, who proclaimed Proposition A to be an example of the “hijacking of democracy.” Oh really? A ballot initiative that will directly face voters all over the county is “hijacking democracy”? I’d love to see what he calls it when Ron Richard or Kit Bond procures millions of dollars in earmarks for bridges and highways in rural Missouri.
This is part of what I don’t get. I don’t complain when our state and federal leaders dole out $80 billion per month to maintain and expand highways, most of which I will never use in my lifetime. Gasoline taxes and user fees like tolls don’t begin to cover their maintenance and expansion, so you and I are footing the bill for every one of Kit Bond’s bridges and highways, and Lisa Murkowski’s, and Robert Byrd’s, and so on, whether they are in your area or not. (Full disclosure: I’ve actually been on the bridge whose opening ceremony I linked to.)
Heaven forfend that St. Louis voters actually decide for themselves that a modest amount of our own money go toward making sure that we have some decent mass transit service in St. Louis area, reducing congestion on our highways, helping to spur denser development, and generally keeping pace with several other major cities who are already starting or expanding a light rail network.
Again, it’s not just me. A wide coalition throughout the region is urging the passage of Prop A, from Archbishop Robert Carlson to Rev. Elston McCowan, from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to Chesterfield Mayor Jon Nations, from liberal Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman to conservative Republican Rep. Rick Stream.
If you’re in St. Louis County and you have a pulse and a current voting registration, get to the polls on Tuesday and vote yes.