Times-Standard: New tax proposal to care for roads moves forward

Key to the discussion over local road funding is this often neglected fact: Even if the new tax is approved by voters, it will make only a small dent in the large and growing local infrastructure deficit.  We will still have to make tough choices about our transportation spending priorities.  So while the two-thirds support for a sales tax grabs the headlines, another of the survey’s findings may be even more important: Humboldt County voters overwhelmingly believe that fixing and maintaining local roads is the most important goal, while support for expanding the system – widening roads and bridges or building new roads – is extremely low.  Local policymakers should take note.

From the Times-Standard:

“‘Voters want a local source of funding to address transportation issues, but are not overwhelmingly confident funds from a local sales tax would be spent well,’ [pollster Miranda] Everett told the [HCAOG] board. The board has estimated the proposed tax would bring in $200 million over its 20-year lifespan.”

Read the full article here.

Triplicate Op-Ed: “199 needs guardrails, not trucks”

From the Triplicate:

“…Now would be a good time for the DNLTC to relinquish its misguided STAA truck funding for Highways 199/197 and put it toward improved safety measures like replacing the Middle Fork Bridge. Shifting funds to the Last Chance Grade replacement would promote a project with obvious economic and safety improvements for the citizens of Del Norte County….”

Read the full op-ed here.

Humboldt County Public Works Asks for a Fraction of the Maintenance Funds it Needs

Lower gas tax revenue is already starting to hit home here on the North Coast.  From the Times-Standard:

“If approved the $2.5 million will cover just 1 percent of deferred maintenance on the 1,207 total miles of county roads, of which between 1,000 and 1,100 miles need work, Humboldt County Public Works Director Tom Mattson said.”

Read the full article here.

Gas Tax Lowered – Lower Transportation Revenue to Follow

With gas tax revenues already in steep decline due to lower gas prices, and infrastructure funds already feeling the pinch, the state tax board yesterday lowered the gas tax.  This is just one more indication that transportation officials must start to get serious about prioritization.  The first order of business on the North Coast should be abandoning the outdated, oversize STAA truck access projects in favor of funding only true needs – such as a permanent fix at Last Chance Grade.

From the Sacramento Bee:

“…So the board voted 3-2 to lower the tax to 27.8 cents per gallon for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2017.  That move would reduce the amount of money going to roads and mass transit programs by about $328 million next year….

California Department of Transportation Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a statement that the consecutive decreases will reduce transportation funding by three-quarters of a billion dollars over the next five years and may delay projects….”

Op-Ed: “Improvements on U.S. 199, 197 needed, STAA trucks are not”

From the Triplicate:

“I must add my voice to the chorus of locals who understand that the proposed work for Highways 199 and 197 in Del Norte County will not solve current road problems but will worsen already dangerous driving conditions if the work is completed and STAA-sized trucks are permitted to use both roadways…”

Read the full op-ed here.