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.
Video – California's Looming Transportation Fiscal Cliff
August 14, 2013
Nothing wrong with California roads that a lot of money can't fix
August 12, 2013
Tighten your seat belt; get ready for a rough ride: here comes the fiscal cliff in California transportation funding. Tom Barnidge, a columnist for the Contra Costa Times, interviews Transportation California’s Will Kempton and State Senator Mark DeSaulnier and gets an unpleasant surprise. “The whole system is in jeopardy,” Kempton said.
Read more here.
What's this transportation fiscal cliff they're talking about?
August 5, 2013
A new video explains the coming plunge in transportation funding.
Presented by Will Durst for the California Alliance for Jobs, the video features commentary from Will Kempton (Transportation California), Jim Earp (Alliance for Jobs) and Kiana Buss (California State Association of Counties).
The educational piece explains Proposition 1B, its accomplishments and limitations – a one-time injection of funding to build critical transportation infrastructure. That funding runs out next year.
As Will Durst says, “Not a pretty picture.”
Watch the 3-minute You Tube video, available here.
Infrastructure bill mores forward; trust fund alarm rings
July 29, 2013
Infrastructure funding got both House and Senate attention last week.
The U.S. Senate has moved forward with a $108 billion measure for infrastructure projects and housing subsidies – passing a “procedural hurdle” with a bipartisan 73-26 vote. Days of debate will follow. A top Republican on the Appropriations Committee says the bills in the Senate and House are so far apart, they probably will have to do another continuing resolution.
Read the AP story here. And an article on The Hill’s Floor Action blog here.
Also last week, the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing on the financial status of the Highway Trust Fund. The HTF will be unable to meet its obligations sometime in 2014. DOT and CBO officials said that barring additional revenues (e.g., a 10-cents per gallon motor fuel tax increase or a $15 billion general fund transfer), DOT will start rationing reimbursement payments to states.
Read the story int he AASHTO Journal here. And in The Hill’s Transportation report here.
US bridges decay, while politicians focus on ribbon cutting
July 22, 2013
Political spectacle takes precedence over common sense regarding dilapidated infrastructure, and drivers and businesses are suffering, according to NBC/CNBC’s John W. Schoen.
Schoen writes: Politicians are pushing to use scarce public funds to build new bridges, experts say, instead of spending that money on repairing and maintaining existing structures.
“It’s a lot harder to cut a ribbon on a pothole repair project,” said Roger Millar, a vice president at Smart Growth America, an advocacy group that focuses on sustainable development.
Read more at NBC Business News.
Change in gas tax will direct all revenue to transportation
July 15, 2013
Recent “increase” in gas tax was a 2011 legislative agreement.
By Will Kempton, Transportation California Executive Director
There has been a flurry of recent news articles regarding the state’s gas tax and a recent “increase” approved by the Board of Equalization that took effect this month. Unfortunately, most of the stories fail to mention the reason for the board’s adjustment, and the public should have the facts as they consider this issue.
The recent increase was part of a 2011 legislative agreement to eliminate the gasoline sales tax and replace it with an equivalent level of excise or gas tax to produce the same amount of revenue. This pact was dubbed the “gas tax swap.”
The difference between sales taxes and the gas tax is important because the gas tax – the cents-per-gallon tax – is constitutionally protected and can be spent only on transportation.
Read more here.
Reason Report says US highways aren't so bad…
July 8, 2013
…Except in California. Early maintenance makes the difference.
The author of the Reason Foundation’s 2013 Annual Highway Report, David Hartgen, says America’s highway system has been steadily improving for at least two decades. That challenges the common narrative that US infrastructure is in dire straits. Hartgen notes that a those with the worst public highway systems — California, Alaska, Rhode Island and New Jersey — could take a lesson from those with the best systems and repair already-existing infrastructure early and often.
Hartgen says that state politicians learn to “just say no” to new projects and push their money toward improving existing infrastructure.
According to the report, California’s system ranks 47th in the nation in overall highway performance and efficiency. The state’s urban interstates are the most congested in the nation. And California ranks 49th in urban interstate pavement condition and 39th in the condition of rural arterial roads. The state-owned highway system is the 11th largest in the nation.
Read more of the news story in the Huffington Post here.
Here is the link to the Reason Report.
Tax on gas rising
July 1, 2013
Gas prices rise 3.5 cents today from 36 to 39.5 cents a gallon.
The fuel tax swap in 2010 mandated that the Board of Equalization adjust the gas tax each year
BOE said 14.6 billion gallons of gasoline were purchased in-state last year. Based on projections, the latest 3.5-cent increase will generate more than $500 million from July 1 through June 30, 2014.
Read more here.