Will $150 Million Solve California’s Transportation Woes?

The projects approved vary from simple sidewalk repair to a $25 million highway improvement project.

by Bridget Webster, The Fresno Bee / December 14, 2015
Intersection of Hwy. 105 and Hwy. 110 in Los Angeles, Calif. Flickr/Snak Shak

(TNS) -- The California Transportation Commission adopted 27 projects, valued at nearly $154 million, to help upkeep California’s roads and bridges, alleviate traffic delays and encourage the use of alternative forms of transportation like biking, walking and transit.

“Caltrans is making sure every dollar counts when it comes to building California’s transportation infrastructure: repairing aging freeways, making highways and bridges safer and promoting bicycling and walking,” said Caltrans’ Malcolm Dougherty. “All these investments will benefit Californians now and for decades to come.”

The newly allocated funding includes $25.5 million from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program for five “fix it first” projects that will repair bumpy pavement, preserve roads in good condition from deteriorating and upgrade bridges to make them safer and stronger. Most of California’s highways are no more than a half-century old, and carry nearly half of the nation’s container freight, which is more than any other state.

Allocations also include $53.3 million from Proposition 1B, a transportation bond approved by voters in 2006. More than $18 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been put to work statewide for transportation purposes.

Other allocations include $42.8 million for Transit and Intercity Rail Program projects, $2.5 million towards Active Transportation program projects; the most recent active transportation investment as part of the nation’s largest program of its kind, and $1.2 million for five capital improvement projects on and off the state highway system as part of the State Transportation Program, STIP.

Among the projects that received funding on Friday were Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties.

Wasco in Kern County received $410,000 to make pedestrian infrastructure pavements, while Dinuba in Tulare County received $261,000 to install new bike lockers at Transit Center and develop an informational website.

Fresno received $650,000 to make a nearly mile-long bike lane near Fresno State, stretching from Barstow and Cedar avenues to Chestnut Avenue. This project will widen the road and add a car turn lane to the corner of Barstow and Chestnut avenues.

The commission also approved the 2015-2016 STIP Allocation Plan. Due to the decrease in revenue from the price-based excise tax on gasoline, approximately $150 million in STIP projects that were programed in the 2015-2016 fiscal year may have funds allocated in the current year.

The price-based excise tax replaced the statewide sales tax on gasoline and its rate is adjusted annually by the California Board of Equalization. The revenue is used to backfill weight fees that are diverted to the transportation Debt Service Fund. After backfilling weight fees, 44 percent of the remaining funds are allocated between local agencies, 44 percent to new construction projects and 12 percent to highway maintenance and operations.

©2015 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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