Caltrans approves expediting more than $3B in road projects
- The California Transportation Commission has approved nearly $3.4 billion in road and bridge repair projects submitted by Caltrans, according to KRCR 7 TV. The projects are as part of the $52 billion Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year.
- This round of 90 projects is included in the $30 billion "Fix-It-First" portion of the Act, which will deliver approximately $5 billion a year in additional infrastructure and transportation funding for the next 10 years.
- The work includes 1,200 miles of pavement restoration, the repair or replacement of 66 bridges and 300 culverts and drainage systems, and the addition of 2,400 traffic management features that aim to reduce congestion.
Perhaps tired of waiting for money from an anemic Highway Trust Fund (HTF) or uncertain of the Trump administration's plans to implement its sweeping $1 trillion infrastructure plan, California and several other states have launched their own significant transportation spending initiatives to fix their crumbling infrastructure.
In September, Oregon approved a surface transportation spending program to improve transit in the Portland metro area. The 10-year, $5.3 billion spend is being funded by a state gas tax increase, in addition to a sales tax on vehicles and bicycles. Earlier this month, West Virginia voters authorized the state to issue enough road bonds to pay for a nearly $3 billion initiative to fund repairs and upgrades to state highways, bridges and other infrastructure.
Though some states like Oregon have moved to implement a gas tax hike to generate the funds needed for infrastructure repairs, lawmakers at all levels have been hesitant to raise gas taxes. That hesitation has left the HTF lagging with the 1992-era, 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax as its revenue stream.
While lawmakers have shied away from raising the gas tax, a Bloomberg survey earlier this year revealed that more than half of Americans would support an increase in the tax if it meant that roads in their state and local areas would see improvement. A separate September poll, conducted by HNTB and analyzed by Reuters, found that three-quarters of Americans would support higher taxes and tolls to fund better transportation infrastructure.
In addition to reinvigorating the HTF through gas tax hikes, legislators have also raised the possibility of charging drivers a per-mile fee or increasing sales and tire taxes.
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