California’s Infrastructure Crisis
July 1, 2012
This 2012 white paper outlines current transportation issues including the age and condition of the system, chronic underfunding, expiration of Proposition 1B bond funding and more complications and challenges. Click here to read Transportation California’s white paper.
Spearheading Efforts to Protect and Enhance Transportation Funding
September 2, 2014
For more than two decades, Transportation California has spearheaded efforts to protect and enhance funding for transportation infrastructure in the Golden State. Marshaling the resources of the construction industry, key labor organizations and the business community, Transportation California has established itself as the authoritative voice on transportation issues and the driving force behind key measures to promote infrastructure investment.
Despite the many successes of Transportation California and its allies over the past two decades, investment in transportation infrastructure falls woefully short of meeting basic needs to serve the State’s growing population and dynamic economy. Small incremental gains will not do the job. Substantial new revenue streams must be put in place and sequestered from the annual fiscal turmoil that plagues California’s budget process.
The Challenge Ahead
Transportation California has launched an intensive effort to educate public officials, opinion leaders and the motoring public about the consequences of inaction and the need to bring user fees up to the level where they can support rehabilitation of the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. The logical source for new transportation revenues is user fees. Not counting the 2010 “gas tax swap,” which merely exchanged the State sales tax on gasoline for a comparable excise tax levy, the state gas tax has remained static at 18 cents since it was last raised in 1994. The gas tax would need to be increased by 8-cents per gallon just to catch up with inflation over this period. While there traditionally has been resistance to increasing the gas tax, the reality is that a 10-cent increase would cost the average motorist less than $5 a month. User fees, like the gas tax, ensure that those who use the system pay for it. A modest increase in another user fee, which would be collected like the Vehicle license fee (VLF), could raise $3 billion annually in new revenue. Cap and Trade fees generated from burning fossil fuel in cars and trucks could be dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of California’s transportation system. An assessment for miles driven also would begin to raise the money necessary to bring California’s transportation system into the 21st century.
The case for substantially increased user fees is compelling. The average motorist pays out upwards of $100 a month in repairs, wear and tear, reduced gas mileage and lost time because of congested, poorly maintained roads. The inability to move people, goods and services efficiently is undermining our economy. The Federal Highway Administration calculates that every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure produces $5.20 in benefits.
Making the Sale
Transportation California has been working for over two years to lay the groundwork for a major push to move forward for a new revenue source that will end hand-to-mouth funding and put the construction industry to work building the transportation system of the future.
There is growing consensus on the need to get transportation funding on a sound footing once and for all. It is imperative that we follow up on all fronts—building the strongest possible coalition, educating the public and convincing elected officials that action is imperative.
Our efforts to create new funds for transportation and prevent state borrowing of those funds have put Transportation California in the forefront of transportation advocacy. We have:
- Taken the lead in working for stable new revenue sources to fund California’s transportation needs
- Led the continuing effort to preserve transportation funding in the State Budget in the face of unprecedented fiscal crises in California. As a result, transportation infrastructure has fared better than virtually any major sector in avoiding cutbacks during the past five years
- Negotiated the 2010 “gas tax swap” which removed transportation from the General Fund and actually increased revenue for basic transportation programs
- Partnered with the California Alliance for Jobs to win overwhelming approval of Proposition 1A to safeguard transportation funds and Proposition 1B to provide more than $19 billion in bond money for transportation
- Taken the lead in passing Proposition 42 (sales tax on gasoline) to increase funds for transportation projects and spearheaded the Fund Prop. 42 Coalition.
- Passed Proposition 2, a measure which prevents diversion of gas tax funds to non-transportation purposes
- Led the fight for Proposition 192 to support earthquake retrofitting
- Supported passage of AB1012 to expedite delivery of transportation projects
Status of Proposed Transportation Repairs Fee Ballot Measure
January 27, 2014
Funding California’s Transportation Infrastructure
July 1, 2012
Transportation Funding in California: Major Challenges and Trends « Transportation California
A white paper on the relationship between the basic transportation investment needed in California to properly maintain and grow the state’s transportation system and the funding available from dependable revenue sources.
This is a PDF file. Click here to view or download the document.
GlossaryFebruary 2, 2012
Acronyms and Terms relating to federal, state, and local transportation programs and issues. View our list of glossary terms.
A Short History of State Transportation FundingNovember 30, 2010
From the Senate standing committee on transportation, an overview of the gas tax, Propositions 22 and 26 and the gas tax swap. Read More>>>
Meeting California’s Transportation NeedsJune 1, 2010
California has the nation’s most congested roads and demands are growing on California roadways. Read about the state’s aging roads and the consequences of delay and neglect of this vital network.
California Has Some of the Nation’s Most Congested Roads
- California’s urban areas rank among the most congested in the nation. (T.T.I. 2010 mobility study)
- Five California urban areas rank in the top 25 most congested regions in the nation. (T.T.I.’s 2010 mobility study) Those urban areas are Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento. San Bernardino-Riverside, Oxnard-Ventura, Indio-Palm Springs and Lancaster-Palmdale rank very high for cities of their size.
- About 70% of California travel is on the state’s highways and major roads. California’s 170,000 miles of roadway are the busiest in the nation, carrying 327 million vehicle miles of travel each year. (TRIP 2010)
- 68% of California’s urban highways are congested. (TRIP 2010)
- California motorists suffer crushing delays in congestion. The state’s worst delays are in Los Angeles — 63 wasted hours a year per driver. (T.T.I. 2010 Mobility Study)
- Because “rush hour” congestion lasts many hours a day, the consequence of clogged roads, according to the Texas Transportation Institute, is that trips take longer; congestion affects personal travel, rural areas, freight shipments, weekend travel; and travel times are unreliable. (T.T.I. 2010 Mobility Study)
- The statewide cost of time lost and fuel wasted in traffic congestion is $18.7 billion annually. (TRIP 2010)
Demands Are Growing on California Roadways
- In 1960 there were 9 million registered vehicles in the state, yet over 33 million today. (2006 Five-Year Infrastructure Plan; DMV.CA.GOV)
- Vehicle miles of travel increased 26% between 1990 and 2008. Vehicle miles of travel are projected to increase another 20% by the year 2030. (TRIP 2010)
- California’s population exceeded 37 million in 2010, nearly 9% more people than in 2000. The state’s population increased 54% between 1980 and 2010, from 24 million residents to 37 million. By 2030, the state’s population is expected to increase by approximately 25% to 46.5 million people. (DOF; US Census Bureau 2010)
California’s Roads Are Not Aging Gracefully: We Have the Nation’s Bumpiest Roads
- The bulk of California’s highway system was built in the 1960s and 1970s and has exceeded its design life, and maintenance and rehabilitation costs have significantly increased. Growing maintenance and rehabilitation demands consume increasing portions of transportation funds. (LAO, CTC) A survey of California counties shows only three can meet the recommended repaving cycle of 20 years; 32 have a 50-year cycle and 19 have a 100-year+ repaving cycle.
- California’s highways carry significantly more traffic than they were designed to handle. In the last 10 years, automobile travel increased 10 times faster than new lane capacity was added. (TRIP)
- The result is heavy demand on the aging system, causing:
– Wear and tear on roads: Sixty-six percent of California’s major local and state road miles are rated in poor or mediocre condition and 29% of the state’s overpasses and bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. (TRIP analysis: FHWA data) Six California major metros rank in the Top 10 cities with the roughest rides, and seven of the top 15 costliest road systems to drivers are in California. (TRIP 2010)
– Poor roadways: While a quarter of the nation’s major metropolitan roads – interstates, freeways and other critical local routes – have pavements in poor condition, California cities on the top 10 roughest rides list have 47 to 64 percent of pavements rated in poor condition. (TRIP 2010)
– Additional operating costs: California’s 23.6 million motorists pay an average of $586 each in extra vehicle operating costs annually as a result of driving on roads in poor, mediocre and fair condition. The national average is $335. California motorists pay more than $13.5 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs (e.g., pothole damage to tires and rims, front end alignments, lost hubcaps, wasted fuel, shortened vehicle lifespan.) (TRIP 2010)
Delay and Neglect Increase Costs
- Not dealing with congestion and our aging system leads to more battered roads and more congestion, loss of productivity, loss of business, and disruption of commerce.
- Not repairing poor roads leads to roadbed deterioration. Rebuilding roads in this state of disrepair can cost four times as much as renovating a road in fair condition. (Metropolitan Transportation Comm. Pothole Report, 2000)
- “Road conditions are a factor in an estimated 30% of traffic fatalities.” Edward G. Rendell, Public Works Management and Policy, October 1998. The number of fatalities on California roads averaged 4,024 between 2004 and 2008. $100 million spent on highway safety improvements potentially could save 145 lives over a 10-year period.
Sources: The Road Information Program (TRIP), Caltrans, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), US Census Bureau, California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Governor’s Office.
Video: The Lifecycle of a HighwayAugust 11, 2009
Why does a highway need to be rebuilt? Watch this video from Missouri DOT showing the lifecycle of a highway.
Shuster says highway bill won't be funded through gas tax, motorist user feesJanuary 5, 2015
Gas tax and VMT fee are both unworkable, Shuster says
The chairman of the House Transportation Committee says passing a bill to pay for America’s aging roads and bridges will be a top priority next year, but he is ruling out a gasoline tax increase or motorist user fees as the way to do it. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, has said a vehicle-miles-traveled tax should be considered as an alternative to increasing the 18.4-cent-per-gallon gas tax, given the rise in fuel-efficient vehicles that makes taxing by the gallon rather than the mile less effective. Looking ahead to a GOP-controlled Congress, Shuster said this month that both proposals are unworkable.
“The president has ruled out a gas tax, I don’t think there’s a will in Congress, and the American people don’t want it,” Shuster said. He added that a VMT tax was “never really on the table,” pointing in part to lawmaker hesitancy over technical challenges of the government tracking motorists’ mileage. Shuster, whose committee is working with the House Ways and Means Committee to figure out a funding solution, said a long-term highway bill may be paid by repatriating offshore corporate taxes or from oil exploration and production offshore and on federal lands — proposals that supporters of a gas tax hike contend aren’t long-term answers.
Read more here.
California carbon funds are an uncertain benefit for high-speed railDecember 29, 2014
Not having revenue projections hampers private investment in HSR project
Sacramento Bee –It was a major lift for high-speed rail when Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature this summer pledged future proceeds from California’s carbon-reduction program to help underwrite the state’s $68 billion project…. Long-term funding, rail officials said, could be leveraged to secure private investment in the project.
Yet as rail officials began talking with potential investors about cap and trade in recent months, the funding source has proved not only to be alluring, but also problematic. The Brown administration projected generating about $550 million from cap-and-trade auctions in the current fiscal year, but the Department of Finance refuses to estimate future revenue, arguing doing so might influence the market. For investors looking for a reliable return, the uncertainty of future proceeds is concerning.
Read more in the Sacramento Bee here.