While the U.S. Federal Government contemplates supplementing the Highway Trust Fund from the general fund, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes raiding the state gas tax to pay into the general state budget. This move would take $750 million from local transportation budgets statewide each year.
For cities that rely heavily on state funds to repair their roads, the possibility is jarring.
“Devastating,” said Carole Dawson, a civil engineer with the city of Seaside.
“This is crazy,” said Mark Dettle, director of Santa Cruz’s Department of Public Works.
“Catastrophic,” said Chris Augenstein, a road planner with the Valley Transportation Authority.
California roads already rate as the most dilapidated in the nation, with more than two-thirds in poor to mediocre condition, according to a recent national report. The San Jose area has the second-worst roads in the nation, with 90 percent of its pavement rated poor to mediocre. Potholes in 11 California cities cost drivers more than $700 annually in car repairs, about $150 higher than the national average.
Transportation leaders almost all agree that it’s time to raise the state’s 18-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax, which hasn’t increased since 1994.