The California Transportation Commission met in Riverside on Wednesday. On the agenda was the allocation of $254 million in funding for transportation projects throughout the state. You can read Caltrans’ press release here. Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty commented:
Investing in our infrastructure benefits Californians for generations to come and these projects will improve mobility for all users of the transportation system, whether they choose to travel by car, take transit or ride a bicycle.
Just under half of the money allocated came from Prop 1B funds. Voters approved the bond in 2006 and it continues as an important piece in bringing California’s infrastructure up to speed. Most of the Prop 1B funds - $108 million – went to rail service for the purchase of locomotives and rail cars. This is a welcome development, especially for those of us who use the commuter rail services, such as Metrolink. And with more millennials joining the workforce, it seems likely that demand for mass-transit will continue to increase. (For more on millennials and transit, see APTA’s article “Millennials & Mobility: Understanding the Millennial Mindset.”)
Millennials are not the only ones who will benefit from the CTC’s allocation. Many of us will benefit from the projects receiving money this month. Some highlights include:
- $6.5 million for improvements to SR 1 in Malibu
- $7.7 million for surface improvements to SR 12 in San Joaquin County
- $2 million for regional transit operation facilities in Butte County
- A full list of projects receiving funding can be found here.
The CTC also approved $64.7 million for the beleaguered Willits Bypass project. That project has been beset by environmental issues and protests that have taken their toll on the budget and project timing. Just a few months ago, I thought the project was moving forward (see my blog post here) but it appears the controversial project has more hurdles to overcome.
Another item on the CTC agenda was the appointment of a committee to study the Road Usage Charge alternative to the gas tax. The California Legislature enacted SB 1077 authorizing a pilot program for the study. Whether the Road Usage Tax will become a reality remains to be seen. As Dan Weikel of the LA Times reports in his article “Tracking miles as gas tax alternative raises fairness, privacy concerns“, not everyone is in favor of the government tracking people’s travel. But the reality is that as people give up their gas-guzzlers in favor of more eco-friendly cars and mass transit (again, think millennials), a major source of transportation revenue will continue to decline. Is the Road Usage Tax the best replacement? Maybe, maybe not. That is probably a subject for another blog post. Perhaps the CTC’s newly appointed committee will help decide the question.