KBAK/KBKX Bakersfield: Bakersfield could get $300 million for roads from unpopular gas tax bill

November 21, 2017
By: Kyle Harvey 

Bakersfield could be on the verge of receiving a huge windfall of cash associated with Senate Bill 1, a deeply unpopular bill that substantially raised the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees.

The direction the new revenue flows will depend significantly on a competitive grant process that City Manager Alan Tandy said Bakersfield is uniquely qualified to win.

“To have Senate Bill 1 pass and these grant packages come out right now was just good luck,” he said.

Tandy said the city will be able to leverage money it obtained through a congressional allocation to win another pot of gold.

Dubbed the Thomas Roads Improvement Program, TRIP began in 2005 with $630 million dollars secured by then-Congressman Bill Thomas (R-Bakersfield). For years, the city has used that sum — together with local and state contributions — to fund several large projects, including the widening of the Rosedale Highway, Highway 178 and Highway 58.

Moving forward, the state will award money from Senate Bill 1 using a system that prioritizes cities and counties with “shovel-ready” projects.

Such a designation means that the city has already secured the needed land, finalized the design, completed the environmental review process and is ready to kick in local dollars to help cover the costs. Because of TRIP, Bakersfield has several shovel-ready projects.

“There aren’t many jurisdictions that happen to be in that particular circumstance,” Tandy said. “It’s coincidental luck.”

Tandy says confidently the city can expect hundreds of millions of dollars that could, among other things, complete the Centennial Corridor project without the need for any local borrowing.

The corridor will link the Westside Parkway with Highway 58 and Highway 99.