California drivers are slowly seeing upgrades to California roadways. In one example, commuters on Interstate 880 at speeds of 60-70 m.p.h. are experiencing a smoother terrain with fewer jolts. A 12 cent per gallon gas tax, a hike in the cost of vehicle registration renewal and an increase in the sales tax rate on diesel from 9% to 13% are the financial source of roadway improvements, with an estimated $52 billion revenue increase to assist in California’s transportation needs for the next decade. The passing of Bill SB 1 provides the tax revenue to assure roadway improvements.
As Californians experience further tax increases in a fitful economy, many residents are interested in seeing fully tangible results. Some California tax payers are also inquiring about taxing electric vehicles, a $100 annual fee in lieu of gas taxes of which will begin in 2020. The delay helps the EV industry first establish a stronger footing in the state.
The average daily increase in the price of gas is estimated to be 20 cents per day.
According to Matt Rocco of Caltrans, over $500 million in SB 1 revenue has so far gone to cities and counties, maintenance projects, project awards and completions, and over 200 new projects. Funds have also been dedicated to civil engineering and environmental studies.
Gary Richards, Mr. Roadshow”, of The Mercury News also maintains much work has begun, pending political efforts to repeal the gas tax. The estimated breakdown from some ‘residents in-the-know’ on certain upcoming roads repairs shows:
- San Jose: $13 million, starting in June, for maintenance on 23 miles of busy streets
- An additional $7.5 million for further San Jose street repairs in 2019
- Raising bridge decks at the MacArthur Maze starting in 2018
- Repaving of Interstate 80 near Highways 4
- Repaving of Highway 85 north of 101 in South San Jose
- Restriping 101 on the Peninsula
Currently $30 million in highway projects have been completed or started:
|State Route 162||$3 million||Resurface 8.2 lane miles near Covelo in Mendocino County|
|State Route 36||$3.9 million||Resurface 11.4 lane miles south of Mad River in Trinity County|
|State Route 113||$1.5 million||Resurface 3.6 lane miles in Dixon in Solano County|
|State Route 84;
State Route 220
|$1.7 million||Place a chip seal on 18.6 lane miles in Solano County|
|State Route 99||$2 million||Replace damaged pavement on 3.5 lane miles in Fresno|
|Interstate 605||$2.6 million||Resurface 23.4 lane miles between El Monte and West Covina in Los Angeles County|
U.S. Highway 95
|$10.1 million||Resurface 72.5 lane miles south of Needles in San Bernardino County|
|State Route 59||$3 million||Resurface 25.6 lane miles near Merced|
|State Route 39;
State Route 1
|$2.7 million||Resurface 23 lane miles of pavement near Westminster and Huntington Beach in Orange County|
Within three months of collecting the extra 12 cents per gallon, the state fast tracked dozens of road and bridge repairs. With a conservative-led campaign to repeal SB 1 hot on its tail, state officials are intent upon showing results to save the billions which they foresee generating significant road system improvements. An additional incentive for immediate initiation of roadway upgrades is the federal matching funds President Trump announced for road and other infrastructure projects.
Motorists are beginning to drive smoother, while Caltrans plans to increase it’s staff by 10%, adding 2,000 jobs — from maintenance to architects and engineers — as personnel involved in SB1-funded roadway improvements.
“The proposed repeal of SB 1 would not only rob our state and local governments of vitally needed state funding, but now we learn that it could also hamper our ability to receive federal funding,” said Matt Cate, executive director of the California State Assn. of Counties.
As roadway improvements progress, a group of Republican members of Congress from California are in the final stages of collecting signatures to propose a ballot measure to repeal SB 1.
Opposition to the bill maintains that California taxpayers already pay plenty for road repairs, and that there is money available in the general fund for roadway improvements.
The progression of time and the pressure from opposition will decide the extent to which roadway improvements take shape in California. Contact your state senators and representatives to voice your opinion on this issue.
Find more information on SB 1 state roadway improvements and issues at The Sacramento Bee – Capitol Alert: California gas tax increase is now law. What it costs you and what it fixes and Los Angeles Times: California’s gas tax increase has fast-tracked road repair projects as supporters hope to stave off a repeal.