- The California Transportation Commission has given the green light to a $328 million program of state infrastructure improvements, according to Equipment World.
- The list of 88 projects includes nearly $36 million for biking and pedestrian initiatives and $234 million for "fix-it-first" highway repairs and upgrades. Also part of the spending program are two rail projects, capital improvements along the state highway system and traffic congestion programs.
- State officials said more transportation spending programs like this are on the horizon because of California Gov. Jerry Brown's 10-year, $52 billion transportation funding bill.
In April, California legislators approved a 12-cent-per-gallon increase to the state gas tax and additional vehicle registration fees to pay for the massive infrastructure spending initiative.
The state's backlog of highway and bridge repairs total about $130 billion. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, approximately 50% of the state's roads need improvements.
Earlier this month, Indiana officials announced that they were also raising the state's gas tax by 10 cents per gallon to help pay for a seven-year, $5 billion infrastructure program. The increase will cost residents an average of $63 a year, but lawmakers said public feedback indicates that taxpayers are willing to pay slightly more for gas in exchange for better roads.
While some states are looking to taxpayers to fund infrastructure programs, Utah transportation officials announced this week that they were launching a $1 billion transportation program, courtesy of the state legislature. State lawmakers will borrow the money over a four-year period, and Utah Transportation Commission officials said the windfall will allow them to complete a handful of major projects in a shorter timeframe.
Bonds are also a way to finance infrastructure projects, and Maine officials cleared a major hurdle this month in advance of a bond issue that will pay for this summer's bridge and road work. Maine Gov. Paul LePage disagreed with the process that the state treasurer used to select the bonding agent, arguing that the requirements cut out many Maine-based businesses. It looked like, in protest, LePage would drag his feet on setting a bond issue amount for the June sale, which would have jeopardized about $600 million in projects scheduled for this summer. However, the governor and Hayes worked out a compromise, no doubt under pressure from state infrastructure contractors who depend on seasonal work to survive the slow winter months.