council pushes state, local solutions to shrinking transportation dollars

Record low gas prices may be a boon to drivers’ wallets, but they are a disaster for funding highway and transit improvements.  State gas tax receipts, in part tied to the price of gas, have plummeted and this week the impact hit home hard. In response to a $754 million statewide reduction in funding that the California Transportation Commission made in January, a Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee on Tuesday (March 9) announced a collection of $71.3 million in projects around the region that would lose funding over the next five years. Among the projects getting slashed are improvements such as the 680/4 interchange in Contra Costa County, the 101/92 interchange in San Mateo County, and expansion of bicycle bridges and paths.

Governor Brown’s proposed 2016-17 budget would provide real help by increasing the state gas tax, indexing it to inflation, and moderating year-to-year volatility. The Bay Area Council, in partnership with the Fix Our Roads Coalition and under the leadership of our Transportation Committee Co-Chairs Rosemary Turner of UPS and Jeff Heller of Heller Manus, continues to encourage state legislators to prioritize and protect transportation revenues, but so far the “no new taxes” caucus stands in the way.

Local transportation funding remains a bright spot, and the Council is working closely with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and BART on transportation funding measures likely to appear on the November ballot. If approved, billions of dollars of locally controlled revenues will be available for both near term and long term transportation improvements. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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