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TRANSPORTATION LEADERS URGE STATE TO DEVELOP NEW REVENUE STREAM TO HELP FUND HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

Starting in the 1950’s, California legislators embarked on a successful effort to build a world-class transportation infrastructure network. Their objective was to address fast-accelerating population growth, and to support our booming business and industrial economy.

But for too many years, we failed to make the investments needed to maintain the state’s vital roads and highways. And all too often, the Legislature would dip into highway accounts to fund state budget shortfalls.

In 2006, voters approved Proposition 1B which authorized a $20 billion investment to repair aging infrastructure, support expanded goods movement, and increase highway safety.

Prop. 1B not only improved the state’s transportation network, it kept many California-based contractors active and thousands of construction workers employed.

But now Prop. 1B is winding down. It was never designed in the first place to provide ongoing funding to maintain more than 50,000 miles of state highways, and 143,000 miles of local streets and roads.

It is eminently clear that California must develop a new revenue stream that will help cover the cost of maintaining our existing highway system. The transportation community has put forward two proposals to help generate revenue in the short term.

Restore Truck Weight Fee Revenue to Road Maintenance Projects

  • Truck weight fees, totaling almost $1 billion each year, were originally put in place to offset road damage caused by heavy trucks. One fully loaded semi puts as much stress on highway pavement as 9,600 cars.
  • The Legislature passed a bill in 2010 that allowed truck weight fees to be tapped. Today, added tax revenue is flowing into the general fund to pay for bond debt service.
Accelerate Payback of Loans Taken from Transportation Accounts

  • Governor Brown has proposed paying back $351 million in loans taken in prior recession years. That still leaves approximately $1.5 billion in loans remaining.
  • Early payback of these fund transfers — within the next two to four years — would help keep thousand of construction workers on the job, and provide needed funding for highway infrastructure projects.

The consequences of failing to implement a near-term transportation funding solution would have a serious economic impact. The predictable results would be:

  • Fewer infrastructure projects, and decreasing numbers of contractors bidding on them
  • Reduced competition, cost increases, and, inevitably, fewer jobs.

Contact your legislators and tell them what you think.