Connecting state and local government leaders
A $70 billion backlog of projects isn’t helping the situation in the Golden State.
Supervisors from California’s 58 counties began 2017 imploring state lawmakers to “Keep your promise. Fix our roads,” after they failed to craft a transportation funding plan for the second straight year.
A transportation special session Gov. Jerry Brown called in July 2015 expired on Nov. 30 without action to to address the ongoing funding crisis. County leaders in the Golden State aren’t backing down.
In some cases, county roads will need to be replaced at 10 times the cost, where simple maintenance once would have sufficed, wrote Matt Cate, California State Association of Counties executive director, in a Sacramento Bee editorial:
Many local governments are trying to encourage alternatives to driving. But without money for basic maintenance, retrofitting streets and sidewalks to make them safer for walking and biking is out of reach.
Current revenue simply has not kept pace with the need. The state highway system and local road system both have backlogs estimated at more than $70 billion over the next decade.
Local transportation revenue measures have generated half as much funding since the advent of fuel-efficient vehicles coupled with gas prices falling next to a gas tax unchanged since 1994, Cate continued.
Slight increases to existing taxes and the streamlining of the project approval process are a start, but supervisors from San Diego, Contra Costa, Solano and Amador counties were among those who chastised the state government for inaction in a new CSAC video released on Wednesday.
“I think I speak on behalf of a lot of rural counties,” Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass says in the video. “Our massive amount of roads—1,207 miles of them—are crumbling.”
Supervisors from Stanislaus, Santa Clara and Kern counties were also featured.
CSAC is using the #FixCARoads hashtag to keep the pressure on state legislators across social media.
“We have some of the oldest bridges that are in the poorest conditions throughout the state, and they’re becoming unreliable,” Shasta County Supervisor Leonard Moty says in the video. “Just last summer Caltrans closed one of our bridges because it was unsafe and is looking at others.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.