March 7, 2016
Leaders in transportation as part of the Fix Our Roads Coalition gathered in Martinez near the 680/Highway 4 interchange project to rally for funding support for transportation projects around the state.
Although Supervisor Federal Glover was unable to attend Wednesday’s event, the press conference was led by District Two Supervisor Candace Anderson, Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder, Vice Mayor of Concord Ron Leone, Executive Director of the California Alliance for Jobs Michael Quigley, and more calling for support to maintain and improve California’s highways, roads, and other essential parts of state transportation.
The gathering follows the California Transportation Commission (CTC) slashing funding for the State Transportation Improvement Program by more than $750 million over the next five years, meaning many improvement and maintenance projects, like the ones needed in Contra Costa County, will go unaddressed.
CTC claims that one of the big reasons for the cuts stems from California’s gas tax, which lowered the amount of revenue given to the state in a time where more investment in needed in transportation.
Phase 3 of the 680/Highway 4 interchange widening project is at risk of cancellation due to the budget cuts, unless Legislature acts. But it’s not just Contra Costa County projects facing cancelation. In a letter to Legislature, the CTC estimates that more than 200 ongoing projects will either be canceled or postponed outside of the five year time span, and no new projects will be added over the next five years.
There are seven projects in total in Contra Costa County that the CTC claims are at risk for deletion or delay. These include phase 2 of the 80 Central Avenue Interchange, the 680 Southbound HOV Gap Close, and phase 2 of the San Pablo Dam Road Interchange.
In a statement by the Fix Our Roads Coalition, the group claims that motorists in the Concord area spend approximately $954 annually on car repairs as a result of poor road conditions.
The group calls the county’s needs for transportation funding dire. Currently the county requires more than $3 billion to maintain its bridges, pavement, and other essential components such as street lights and gutters. The budget cuts only compound the problem either further, as in the last three fiscal years Contra Costa County cities have lost more than $14 million in revenue, with Martinez accounting for just over $300,000.
California’s transportation infrastructure as a whole lacks in comparison to other states, with the second highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation, and 58% in need of pavement maintenance or rehabilitation. The state also has 55% percent of local bridges in need or reconstruction or replacement, and traffic issue of 70% urban road and highway congestion. The state is also said to have 4 of 5 cities with the worst road conditions in the nation, according to Fix Our Roads.
Additionally, the CTC claims that without support from Legislature, effects on the state’s transportation system “will be nothing short of catastrophic.” The Fix Our Roads Coalition estimates that ¼ of local streets and roads in failed condition by 2024.
Fix Our Roads is calling for a long-term funding package to address backlogged state and local transportation projects, along with new policies that ensure new transportation funding goes solely towards transportation projects and nothing else.
Last year Governor Brown proposed $36 billion in transportation funding over the next decade. Additionally, two more bills in Legislature seek to implement reforms that would begin to address the transportation problem.
Both the CTC and the Fix Our Roads Coalition claim that policy changes need to happen at the ground level. Fix Our Roads supports an equal split between local state and local transportation projects, overhauling current roadways and unsafe infrastructure, and other measures to ensure transportation dollars are spent responsibly. Lastly, they call for more consistent funding levels to prevent extreme budget cuts like this, providing better long term planning security.