The California Legislature just passed a new Transportation Funding Bill which will provide an estimated $5.2-billion-a-year to the State’s dilapidated highways, roads and bridges. Revenues will come from the following sources:
- 12-cent gasoline excise tax increase, effective November 2017
- 20-cent diesel excise tax increase, effective November 2017
- 4% percent diesel sales tax increase, effective November 2017
- A “transportation improvement fee,” similar to the vehicle registration fee that owners already pay the DMV each year, which will be assessed at a rate that ranges from $25 to $175 per year based on each vehicle’s value, effective January 2018
- $100/year zero emission vehicle fee, effective July 2020
Clearly, no one enjoys paying more taxes, but the fact is that the State’s transportation infrastructure has been severely underfunded for decades and the lack of funding shows in our deteriorating roads and highways. On average, California drivers spend $17 billion every year in extra maintenance and car repair bills due to the state’s poorly maintained roads. This comes out to about $762 per driver every year.
Revenues to fix potholes will nearly double for the cities and County in the Placer region and will make a big dent in the backlog of road maintenance all over the County. Instead of the gas tax only paying for about 1/3 of the cost of keeping pavement in good condition, this influx of funds will raise that to about 2/3 of the money needed.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t solve our traffic congestion problems in South Placer which desperately needs relief. Only $2.5 billion over the next 10 years – less than 5% – will go towards congestion relief projects all around the State. In addition, the small amount of funding for congestion relief projects requires local matching funds. Unfortunately, because of the lack of matching money, it’s unlikely projects such as the I-80 / SR 65 Interchange Improvements Project and SR 65 Widening Project will see much, if any, State dollars. Creating a local revenue source to relieve congestion and improve safety on our roads, highways and bridges is a problem we still need to solve on a local level, like virtually all the other urban and suburban counties in the State. Without that local source we will remain stuck in traffic.