Roads-Where We Are Going, We Don’t Need Roads!
We are now paying 71 cents per gallon of fuel in California (higher rate than any other State) and California roads are the crappiest in all other states. Even those states that have extreme weather issues. Are you like me-MAD AS HELL AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!???!!!
As Dr. Emmitt Brown said in Back To The Future, “roads? where we are going we don’t need roads” link
I generally stay out of State politics because we try to focus on local issues, rather than State issues. However, the County is going to be deciding on a few million dollars or so for our local County road needs which are needing around $47 million per year for the next 20 years. We will never “self help” enough to get to that point. But we can continue to send requests to our local electeds and our State reps to get a comprehensive transportation plan approved so that both State highways and local roads get some of the beneficial fixes so desperately needed.
Part of that local advocacy has to include advocating and asking our local representatives to advocate for fixes at the State level. To that end, the ECA will be writing to Mike McGuire and Lois Wolk and Bob Huff (all of their links are on our website www.nceca.org under “Links”) to request that they renew their efforts to influence their colleagues and push forward a comprehensive transportation plan that addresses the chronic underfunding of our roads.
We also want them to advocate for their colleagues to push forward new efforts to reform both Caltrans and CEQA to facilitate expediting CEQA approvals for “Trade Corridor” projects that allow goods to move into and out of Port and distribution facilities in a streamlined manner.
Are our local electeds supporting our efforts to do something in Sacramento to fix our roads and bridges? Even if they are doing something, can they do more? We do not need a major bridge failure to spur activity do we?
How is it that Californians pay the highest gas tax in the nation, and have the crappiest roads?
Here are a few of the reasons:
1. Because we have unique and complex regulatory requirements to comply with such as CEQA, and
2. Because CALTRANS is not allowed to move design projects out to consultants but rather they have to do it all “in house”, and
3. Because partisan politics lend themselves to the question of how to fund all the work that is needed-simply stated, the Dems want new taxes and new sources of revenue to fund fixing our transportation infrastructure, and Repubs want to defund the high speed rail project and use “cap and trade” monies to fund our transportation fixes.
So, what is the status of any new measures? After months of proposing ideas, the Special Session ended in September with four bills proposed (three by Republicans and one by Democrats) that died in committee for lack of bi-partisan support. Even Governor Brown tried to broker a compromise deal in September that looked promising. Despite tremendous effort, the partisan politics remained the biggest problem to finding a solution. Democrats are pushing for new fees and taxes on fuel, while Republicans believe the inclusion of cap and trade fees on fuels should provide enough funding to do what we need to do. Stalemate. The Dems need 2/3 majority and the Republicans are holding firm on no new taxes/fees and refuse to vote for the new taxes and fees that the Dems are pushing for.
A new Special Committee was formed and held a meeting on October 21, 2015. Chaired by Jimmy Gomez and Jim Beall, I have included a video of the meeting for you to view-I recommend you view parts of it to get an idea of what a giant like Granite Construction thinks about the “fix” as well as what the AGC Chair has to offer. There is a lot of good ideas and some consensus that the Committee can build on and hopefully, present something to their colleagues soon so we can start seeing dollars applied to actual work! Here is the video of the meeting held about 10 days ago— link
I urge you to write to Lois Wolk, Mike McGuire, and Bob Huff and demand they support a comprehensive transportation plan that incorporates the following: A) revision of the California gas tax in order to increase our revenue specifically for transportation infrastructure, B) effect an effort to streamline CEQA to expedite “trade corridor” projects that widen and make more efficient, the roads/rails/ports for better transport of goods into and out of our major distribution facilities, and C) use some of the “Cap and Trade” funds to help relieve congestion by addition of HOV lanes (that would help our Marin Narrows!).
Please go to our website and write an email to your representative today. I would start with our local Supervisors, and ask them to vote for additional funding on November 10, 2015 and then I would write to our State reps. You know the ECA will do both!
So unless you want to be driving a DeLorean in the air with Marty McFly, we do need roads!
That’s All Folks!
Sonoma County Economic Development Board had noted economist Chris Thornberg speak to a packed house on Friday morning last week. His basic message was that you have to “ask the right questions” and “worry about the right things”. The good news is that Chris says we are in great shape and should be in great economic shape for the next few years.
If you would like to look at his Power Point presentation, it is included here: