There is no tomorrow when it comes to fixing our roads, highways and bridges, which is why a misguided effort to repeal Senate Bill 1 — a historic measure to invest more than $5 billion a year in transportation improvements across the state — must itself be put to rest.
The repeal initiative, filed last week with the state attorney general, would require voter approval of all gas tax and vehicle fee increases after January 1, 2017.
If allowed, it would effectively derail billions of dollars in infrastructure investment already in the planning stages — costing California tens of thousands of jobs a year and exacerbating the growing mobility and public safety crisis that years of deferred maintenance have created.
Over the next quarter century, Southern California will need to spend $275.5 billion simply to fix and preserve the roads, bridges and transportation network we already have. Even setting aside that almost unfathomable cost, the perilous path we’re on is exacting a dear price on each of us individually.
Cross any of California’s 25,000 bridges, and there’s a one in four chance that it will be structurally deficient or otherwise in need of maintenance or repairs. Meanwhile, according to research by the Fix Our Roads Coalition, the average motorist in California spends $762 per year in vehicle repairs caused by bad roads.
The problem gets worse the longer we wait. Research shows that it costs eight times more to fix a road than to maintain it. Conversely, strategic investment in transportation improvements yields a healthy return of $2 to $5 for every $1 spent.
For these reasons and more, SB1 is critical to the safety, well-being and survival of our state. The plan, which received two-thirds approval from the Legislature before being signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, increases gasoline taxes for the first time in 23 years and adds an average vehicle fee of roughly $50 per year to pay for much-needed roadway improvements.
Consider that 23 years ago,…