SB 1 Funds Essential to CA’s Poorly Performing Infrastructure
Concerned for the poor condition of California’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has delivered a new report card on the state’s bridges, roads and transit systems, showing that California’s surface transportation infrastructure leaves much to be desired.
ASCE released the 2018 report as a public service to voters heading to the polls in November to vote on Proposition 6, which aims to repeal Senate Bill 1 also known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act. By providing $5.4 billion in funding for roads, bridges, and transit, SB 1 reverses decades of underinvestment in California’s infrastructure.
“We believe it’s important for voters to have a fact based, non-partisan assessment about where we are as Californians and where we might wish to be,” said Kwame Agyare of ASCE.
Roads remained at a D grade, poor and at risk.
The condition of California roads is among the worst in the nation, ranking 49th according to the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking. Southern California ranks as the second most congested urban area in the nation, after New York City. “Forty-four percent of Californian Roads are in poor condition,” said Mr. Akel. Meanwhile, California’s population rose to nearly 40 million in 2018, a 17% increase since 2000. As the state’s population increases, so does vehicle-miles-traveled. Californians now rack up 340 billion miles traveled each year, exacerbating the wear and tear on our roads and highways. SB 1 provides $52 billion in additional funds for local and state roads over the next 10 years.
Bridges were downgraded to a C-, down from a C+ last year.
California has the largest percentage of bridges in poor condition in the nation. Approximately 50% of bridges in the state have exceeded their design life and the backlog of recommended maintenance, repair and replacement work continues to grow. “Especially as it relates to seismic retrofitting to improve the safety of bridges in the event of an earthquake,” said Tony Akel of the Report Card Committee. Some of SoCal’s largest bridges, along corridors such as the I-5 in San Diego and Highway 101 in Los Angeles need major repair and rehabilitation. Statewide, repairs on nearly 4,400 bridges have been identified, with costs estimated at $12 billion. SB 1 is slated to provide $4 billion in additional funding for bridge projects over the next 10 years.
Transit rates as a C- and still requiring attention.
Public transit in California provides nearly 1.5 billion trips annually on 139 transit systems throughout the state. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) completed a 10-year needs assessment to identify state of good repair and expansion funds needed by transit between 2011 and 2020. The report estimated a cost of $174 billion with only 45% funding available, leaving a shortfall of $96 billion. Funding from SB 1 is essential to addressing the shortfall. SB1 is set to provide $750 million annually for transit agencies across the state.
ASCE, along with business groups and government officials, fear that passing Prop 6 (repealing SB 1) will badly damage the state. “It is a dangerous mistake to eliminate transportation revenues that are accountable to the taxpayers, cannot be diverted for other purposes, and that voters have overwhelmingly dedicated to fixing our roads,” said Kiana Valentine of the California Association of Counties.
The most recent polling shows that the majority of California voters would vote No on Prop 6.
“Southern California Partnership for Jobs supports infrastructure investment. We advocated for the passage of SB 1, a new transportation funding source that is becoming ever more critical for California. We oppose any efforts to repeal SB 1 that would rob our communities of vital road safety and transportation improvement funds. We urge Californians to vote No on Prop 6 this November.” — John Hakel, Executive Director.
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