Previous editions of this report cautioned that without an influx of new revenues, the local street and road system would continue to deteriorate and cost taxpayers nearly twice as much to repair this vital investment in the near future. In 2016, the combined funding shortfall for local streets and roads and the state highway system was $130 billion.
After years of careful consideration and study, the Legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed the Road Repair and Accountability Act (also known as SB 1), which provides over $5 billion annually for transportation. Of this, approximately $1.5 billion is allocated to the local street and road system owned and maintained by 539 cities and counties. The passage of SB 1 was a significant success for municipal governments statewide, and injected a long awaited substantial infusion of funding to maintain the local street and road system.
The importance of the local system cannot be over-emphasized. Nearly every trip begins on a city street or county road. Whether traveling by bicycle, bus, rail, truck or family automobile, Californians need a reliable and well-maintained local street and road system.
Every component of California’s transportation system is critical to providing a seamless, interconnected system that supports the traveling public and economic vitality throughout the state. There is a significant focus on climate change and building sustainable communities, which cannot function without a well-maintained local street and road system.
Unfortunately, this continues to be a challenging time for California. SB 1 may be repealed in November 2018, and if so, it would eliminate over $5 billion annually in existing transportation funding and jeopardize over 6,500 road and bridge projects on the local street and road system alone.
The first comprehensive statewide study of California’s local street and road system in 2008 provided critical analysis and information on the local transportation network’s condition and funding needs. Each subsequent report has monitored the changes biennially.
This study sought answers to important questions: What are the current pavement conditions of local streets and roads? What will it cost to repair all streets and roads? What are the safety needs for a functioning system? What is the impact of SB 1 and its repeal on the condition of local streets and roads, bridges, and essential components?
The conclusions from this study are clear: SB 1 is a critical funding source that will allow cities and counties to arrest the deterioration that has occurred to local transportation infrastructure during the past decade or more. Without this source of funding, California’s local street and road system—along with California’s entire interrelated transportation system—will be in crisis. The lack of transportation funding will not only hamper the ability of cities and counties to provide efficient local streets and roads, it will impact their ability to increase alternative modes, provide active bicycle and pedestrian options, meet transit needs, and comply with air quality, greenhouse gas reduction and other environmental policies.