Accelerating the Road User Charge Pilot Program

In the summer of 2014, ACEC California published a white paper on the issue of transportation funding. In the winter of 2014, ACEC California published a magazine continuing the conversation.

Also in 2014, ACEC California was instrumental in pushing the Legislature to pass and the governor to sign Senate Bill 1077 (SB 1077) directing California to conduct a pilot program to study the feasibility of a road charge as a replacement for the gas tax to pay for road maintenance and repairs. Is California ready for such a charge?

We think so (and have been saying that for a while now).

In fact, ACEC California supports the Governor Brown’s May Revise budget proposal to reflect an additional $1.3 million in expenditure in 2016-17 in order to accelerate the Road Usage Charge Pilot Program created by SB 1077.

California’s problems with funding transportation improvements are not going away, even as the overall economy itself improves. The pressure on our roads, highways and bridges, the daily wear and tear, the constant repairs and the dire need for roadway improvements to reduce commute times will only become greater as California’s resurging economy adds jobs and vehicle traffic increases.

While the move toward greater fuel efficiency should be applauded as it benefits our long-term environment, it will do nothing to relieve the wear and tear on our roadways. As cars use less gasoline, funding for transportation paid as a tax per gallon will continually erode, while non-gasoline vehicles wear out roadways without paying a fair share. Federal and state gas taxes are already insufficient to keep pace with needed highway improvements and gas tax increases required to meet these needs are unlikely to be palatable to the state’s taxpayers.

We understand that the Pilot Program is a multi-year endeavor, and in the mean time, we recognize the value in efforts such as SB 16 (Beall), which is a good short-term plan to address our immediate infrastructure funding crisis, we must propel our mindset to a longer, more radical solution to our transportation crisis.

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