Cities, Counties and Transportation Commissions Need To Prepare For the Road Repair and Accountability Act

Signed into law by Governor Brown, the Road Repair and Accountability Act helps provide funding to fix California’s neglected roads and transportation infrastructure 

By Keith Millhouse, Principal, Millhouse Strategies

The California Legislature recently passed what has been commonly referred to as SB1: the Road Repair and Accountability Act, which was later signed into law by the Governor.

The Act is designed to provide funding to fix the terrible conditions of California’s neglected roads and transportation infrastructure system through an increase in the gasoline tax (the first in almost 30 years) and vehicle registration fees.

Among other areas the Act includes funds for active transportation, local partnerships, local streets and roads (apportioned by formula), solutions to congested corridors and trade corridor enhancements.

The Act gave additional responsibilities and powers to the California Transportation Commission to oversee the distribution and expenditure of those funds.

At its most recent meeting, Wednesday May 17th, the Commission adopted the staff’s recommendation regarding the process for implementing the Act. While the exact guidelines for various parts of the program are still being prepared by CTC staff, several things are clear:

  • Cities, counties and transportation commissions throughout the state need to get projects ready to go immediately, if they haven’t already done so. Those entities first in line with the most compelling projects stand to be the big winners
  • It was clear from the Commissioner’s comments that they want to see projects get going as soon as possible; showing voters the progress under this landmark legislation
  • While everyone at meeting was very supportive of the act, many local agencies including SCAG, OCTA and LA Metro argued against the Local Partnership component-proposed 75/25 split between competitive and formula distribution (75 percent going to the most worthy projects as determined by the future guidelines and commission and 25 percent distributed based upon formula).

Those agencies, many of which have their own local sales taxes argued for a higher formulaic percentage.

The Commission adopted the staff proposal, which included the 75/25 split, but seemed willing to revisit that issue at a later date; the key for the Commission was to get moving and get moving now!

That sentiment to get moving now is good for all Californians stuck on substandard roads or in terrible traffic.  The Californians that get moving the fastest may depend on the speed at which their jurisdictions move on their behalf.

Keith Millhouse is an attorney, government relations and transportation/infrastructure consultant based in Southern California. He previously served as a long-time member of the Moorpark City Council, a member of the Ventura County Transportation Commission and a regional council member at the Southern California Association of Governments. As chairman of the Metrolink commuter rail system in Southern California, he helped make the agency an industry safety leader with the first operational commuter rail positive train control system, inward facing cameras and state of the art rail cars. He may be reached for business inquires at keith@millhousestrategies.com.

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