Referendum to Repeal Gas Tax Would Kill Many HOV, Bike, and Light Rail Projects

WINCHESTER , ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: A close-up view of a petrol pump at a petrol station on November 20, 2017 in Winchester, England. UK diesel car drivers are expected to face car tax hikes in proposals set to be announced in the Autumn Budget on Wednesday. (Photo by Matt …
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Newport Beach, CA

California Transportation Commission data demonstrates that if the “Repeal the Gas Tax” initiative on the November ballot passes, it will mostly kill HOV, bicycle, and light rail projects.

Breitbart News reported that the USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times Poll in mid-May found 51 percent of voters now favor voting to dump the 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase first enacted by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) in 2017, and only 38 percent want to keep the tax.

Repealing the gas tax is popular because the tax will cost each California household about $300 per year. But an American Road & Transportation Builders Association study claims the gas tax actually saves households nearly $300 per year. That savings is mostly being credited to “user benefits from decreased congestion, less money spent on vehicle repairs, safer roads, and an improved infrastructure network.”

Officially titled the ‘The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017’, the SB 1 website promised that $5.4 billion per year in gas tax revenues would “rebuild California by fixing neighborhood streets, freeways and bridges in communities across California and targeting funds toward transit and congested trade and commute corridor improvements.”

Roger Dickinson, executive director for union- and contractor-funded Transportation California, told the Bond Buyer, “the 5,000 projects underway — or those slated to begin soon — would be halted in their tracks.” Dickinson warned, “There are smaller ones that could be completed in a year, but many jurisdictions are planning on multi-year funding, and they would not be able to finish the projects they had programmed.”

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) announced $2.7 billion in gas tax awards in 2018 to fund 61 projects that will be “split equally between state and local investments.” To maximize transportation improvement, CTC established 3 funding streams, titled the “Solutions for Congested Corridors Program,” the “Trade Corridor Enhancement Program,” and the “Local Partnership Competitive Program.”

Last month, the 2018 Congested Corridors Program was awarded about $1 billion as recommended spending for just 10 of California’s 58 counties. Other than funding 13 miles of pavement reconstruction, most program funding was allocated to fund about 125 miles of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, bike paths, and light rail transit.

The 2018 Trade Corridor Enhancement Program was awarded almost $1.4 billion as recommended spending. Although there was less detail regarding its spending, almost half the cash for that program will go to HOV lanes and transportation enhancements at California’s southern border.

The 2018 Local Partnership Competitive Program was awarded $308 million as  recommended spending. About $180 million, or over half of the cash, will fund HOV lanes and rail improvements.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association warns that repeal of SB 1 could cost the state 68,203 jobs and reduce $18.3 billion of economic activity and benefits for California residents and businesses each year.

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