• Work begins on California bullet train, locals angry

    October 21, 2013

    “Here comes high-speed rail; there goes the farm,” signs say in Fresno.

    Engineering work has finally begun on the first 30-mile segment of track in Fresno, a city of a half-million people with soaring unemployment and a withering downtown core littered with abandoned factories and shuttered stores.

    Rail is meant to help this place, with construction jobs now and improved access to economic opportunity once the job is complete. But the region that could benefit most from the project is also where opposition to it has grown most fierce.
    “I just wish it would go away, this high-speed rail. I just wish it would go away,” says Gary Lanfranco, whose restaurant in downtown Fresno is slated to be demolished to make way for rerouted traffic. Such sentiments can be heard throughout the Central Valley. Growers complain of misplaced priorities, and residents wonder if their tax money is being squandered.

    Read more in the San Jose Mercury News here.

  • Shutdown threatens California transportation future

    October 14, 2013

    California is once again facing a transportation funding crisis.

    “Gas tax revenues are declining, and, with the looming sunset of the Proposition 1B bond program, money for transportation in this state will diminish drastically,” writes Will Kempton in the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Kempton, executive director of Transportation California, says: “Funding at all levels of government to pay for infrastructure investment is in steep decline. Now Congress is locked in an intractable budget dispute that has shut down the federal government.

    “To be fair, this shutdown will not have an immediate effect on the transportation program. But project delivery will be slowed due to furloughs in agencies conducting environmental reviews, and some federal transit programs will suffer, further exacerbating efforts to sustain a viable transportation network in California.”

    Read more here.

  • 7 California cities make 'Top 20' worst roads list

    October 7, 2013

    Bumpy roads batter cars, cost California drivers $800 extra annually.

    According to a new report released last week by the national research group TRIP, more than one-quarter (27 percent) of the nation’s major urban roads– Interstates, freeways and other arterial routes – have pavements that are in substandard condition and provide an unacceptably rough ride to motorists, costing the average urban driver $377 annually, a total of $80 billion nationwide. In some areas, driving on deteriorated roadways costs the average driver more than $800 each year. Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation and increasing needed maintenance, fuel consumption and tire wear.

    The big-city road systems that cost drivers most include #1 LA-Long Beach-Santa Ana, San Francisco-Oakland (3), San Diego (5), San Jose (6), Sacramento (12), Riverside-San Bernardino (13), and Concord (15).

    California ranks at the top of high costs in secondary cities as well:
    Antioch (1), Hemet (4), Santa Rosa (5), Temecula-Murrieta (6), Stockton (13), and Modesto (15).

    Read more about pavement conditions and the cost of driving on rough, urban roads here.

  • Fracture critical and structurally deficient: U.S. Bridges

    September 23, 2013

    Many US bridges are old, risky and rundown says Associated Press in a new analysis out this week.

    The AP analysis of the over 600,000 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory found more than 65,000 are “structurally deficient” and nearly 21,000 are “fracture critical;” 7,795 of those are both — meaning they’re at significant risk of collapsing, experts say.

    Engineers say the bridges are safe. And despite the ominous-sounding classifications, officials say that even bridges that are structurally deficient and fracture critical are not about to collapse.

    Read more here.

  • Interstate 2.0: Modernizing the Interstate Highway System Via Toll Finance

    September 16, 2013

    20th-century fuel taxes can’t deliver second-generation highways.

    The Reason Foundation says the 20th-century fuel tax cannot deliver a second-generation Interstate highway system, but that 21st-century all-electronic tolling can.

    Congress, the report asserts, can raise almost $1 trillion if they allow states to add tolls to existing roads. Federal law prohibits states from adding tolls to highway lanes that are now free.

    Read more here.

    Also – Moody’s says roll tolls need to increase. Read that story here.

  • Fix CEQA, end carve-outs for special projects

    September 9, 2013

    The SacBee says make project changes to CEQA apply statewide.

    Bee editorial writers consider changes proposed for construction of the Sacramento King’s new arena and poses the question: Why not make a more permanent fix to CEQA – so we don’t have to keep debating this laudable but easily abused law, year after year?

    Read more here.

  • Bay Bridge finally open, troll and all

    September 9, 2013

    There's a troll under there

    This beautiful shot is one of many that appeared online after the bridge opened. The source was not cited.

    The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened to traffic Monday night ahead of schedule. The new span has a variety of safety features, including a good luck troll. It’s a new one, and its location is a closely-guarded secret. The old troll, installed after repairs done after the Loma Prieta quake, was removed and may end up in a museum. Read more here.

  • Bay Bridge to open, but the drama's not over

    September 2, 2013

    It’s opening after 24 years, but already needs a retrofit. Still. . . Bridge! It looks like it will open Tuesday morning. And will probably have the little metal troll a worker added after Loma Prieta. Here are recent stories:

    Bay Bridge nearly sure to open early Tuesday morning. Story here.

    About the bridge troll. Yes, troll. Not toll. That’s here.

    Bay Bridge cost driven up by politics. Here‘s that story.

    They can’t dynamite the old bridge so they’ll have to tear it down west to east and top to bottom. The story’s here.

  • City agrees to study $3 billion roadway repair plan

    August 26, 2013

    $3 billion is a lot for a city. Even LA. But that’s what city council members believe it will take to repair thousands of failing city streets. And LA is only one of a multitude of cities and counties trying to find ways to salvage their roads as funding dries up.

    Last week the LA City Council backed a plan to explore a $3 billion bond proposal to fix 8,700 lane miles of street, or about one-third of Los Angeles’ roadways. Taxpayers will foot a significant portion of the total bill, which could top $5 billion if curb and sidewalk repairs are included. The plan would address a 60-year backlog of road repairs. The proposal could be put to voters in November.

    Amid a shrinking pie of federal and state funds, City Hall has dwindling options to pay for extensive street repairs. In the last year, federal stimulus funding and money from Proposition 1B, a state transportation program, have dried up.

    Read more in the Daily News.

  • Bay Bridge to open after Labor Day weekend

    August 19, 2013

    Temporary fix approved to retrofit broken bolt problem on bridge.

    State transportation officials said they will open the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after the Labor Day weekend as originally planned, despite a broken-bolt problem that threatened to delay the troubled project’s opening.

    The announcement follows the Federal Highway Administration’s endorsement of a temporary retrofit that can be done before completion of permanent work to replace the broken bolts.

    Read more here.