• 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.

  • Brian Kelly named Secretary of new Transportation Agency

    June 27, 2013

    Brian Kelly will head the newly reconfigured California Transportation Agency, which is part of the governor’s reorganization plan to reduce the number of state agencies, departments and entities.  The Transportation Agency will align all of the state’s transportation entities, which have been scattered throughout different agencies.

    Kelly has been acting secretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency since 2012, where previously he was undersecretary.  The reorganization plan, which Transportation California shared with you last year, establishes the California Transportation Agency as a single-focus cabinet office emphasizing transportation policy.

    “This plan groups transportation departments and commissions and gives transportation a focused voice in the governor’s cabinet,” said Transportation California’s Executive Director, Will Kempton.

    “Transportation California commends the Governor for his appointment of Brian Kelly as the new Secretary of Transportation,” Kempton said.  “As acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Mr. Kelly has clearly demonstrated his competence and integrity and he will serve the people of California well in his new role.”

    The new California Transportation Agency will include the following departments and offices.
    – Department of Transportation
    – Department of Motor Vehicles
    – California Highway Patrol
    – Board of Pilot Commissioners
    – Office of Traffic Safety
    – High Speed Rail Authority
    – California Transportation Commission (CTC)

    More information on Kelly’s background and appointment can be found in news on the governor’s website here.

    A summary of the governor’s reorganization plan is here.
  • Brian Kelly named Secretary of new Transportation Agency

    June 26, 2013

    Brian Kelly will head the newly reconfigured California Transportation Agency, which is part of the governor’s reorganization plan to reduce the number of state agencies, departments and entities.  The Transportation Agency will align all of the state’s transportation entities, which have been scattered throughout different agencies.

    Kelly has been acting secretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency since 2012, where previously he was undersecretary.  The reorganization plan, which Transportation California shared with you last year, establishes the California Transportation Agency as a single-focus cabinet office emphasizing transportation policy.

    “This plan groups transportation departments and commissions and gives transportation a focused voice in the governor’s cabinet,” said Transportation California’s Executive Director, Will Kempton.

    “Transportation California commends the Governor for his appointment of Brian Kelly as the new Secretary of Transportation,” Kempton said.  “As acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Mr. Kelly has clearly demonstrated his competence and integrity and he will serve the people of California well in his new role.”

    The new California Transportation Agency will include the following departments and offices.
    – Department of Transportation
    – Department of Motor Vehicles
    – California Highway Patrol
    – Board of Pilot Commissioners
    – Office of Traffic Safety
    – High Speed Rail Authority
    – California Transportation Commission (CTC)

    More information on Kelly’s background and appointment can be found in news on the governor’s website here.

    A summary of the governor’s reorganization plan is here.
  • House GOP and House Dems are miles apart on draft highway bills

    June 24, 2013

    Draft transportation bills are $10 billion apart; continuing resolution likely.

    The House and Senate are taking drastically different paths on a DOT funding bill, raising the possibility of yet another continuing resolution that does little to change the agency’s spending levels. This week Appropriators in both chambers will mark up their respective THUD bills – which are $10 billion apart. The Senate’s allocation to the panel, approved Thursday, is $54 billion – $2.3 billion more than the current fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee unveiled a $44 billion budget for the departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The amount for the agencies in the 2014 fiscal year is $7.7 billion less than their 2013 spending levels. The House is proceeding with 2014 bills that cut below the sequester for domestic programs and which increase spending for defense.

    Read more here and here.