Yes, you read it right. This November, California voters will consider Proposition 6, which would repeal Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the most significant dedicated source of transportation funding in California history. The measure would cut over $200 million per year from road maintenance budgets for the Bay Area’s local streets and roads. Proposition 6 also would subject any future tax on motor vehicle fuel, or vehicles themselves, to voters’ approval. Consequently, this measure would make future efforts to fund improvements of transportation through taxes extremely challenging. Effectively, Proposition 6 would deal a severe blow to the condition of the California's highways and local streets and roads.
Since August, MTC’s Public Affairs department has been ‘all hands on deck’ to provide information to support SB1, after our commissioners took an oppose stance on Proposition 6. Here are some common questions voters should consider related to the pavement condition, should SB1 get repealed:
For example, the map below shows the pavement condition in 10 years with and without SB1 funding:
- What is the overall pavement condition now?
- What will the pavement condition be in 10 years if SB1 continues?
- What will the pavement condition be in 10 years if SB1 is repealed?
Besides pavement condition, it is critical that voters understand the financial impacts as well. Here are some to the questions voters should consider before going to the ballot box:
This chart attempts to answer those questions:
- What is the current maintenance backlog?
- What will be the maintenance backlog with SB1 funding?
- What will be the maintenance backlog without SB1 funding?
Region-wide, MTC has more than 43,500 lane-miles, and currently has an average Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of 67 out of 100 possible points, which is considered ‘fair’. If Proposition 6 passes, our analysis predicts the repeal of SB 1 would lower the region’s PCI to 58 by 2027. The worst impact will be the condition of the local streets and roads, which will deteriorate from current 22 percent to 36 percent in ‘poor’ or ‘failed’ condition by 2027.
Don’t be Penny-wise and Pound-Foolish
What if voters successfully repealed SB1 and do nothing for the next 10 years? What will it cost to bring the pavement condition back to where we are today? To answer these questions, all of the analyses, including the above one, were run in StreetSaver®, a pavement management software developed by MTC and widely used nationwide. To figure the ‘Do Nothing’ cost, we find out the difference in maintenance backlog between the “with SB1 funding” and “without SB1 funding” scenarios, and add the cost to bring the condition from PCI of 58 back to 67.
Not surprisingly, it will cost the Bay Area residents close to $9 billion over the next 10 years just to bring our roads to the condition that they would have been in had SB 1 remained intact. That is more than three times the amount California drivers would be generating for Bay Area local streets roads if the gas tax were to remain in place (SB1 generates $2.8 billion over 10 years in Bay Area). In other words, drivers will invest $64,000 per lane-mile to maintain current condition with SB1, while a repeal of SB1, followed by ‘Do-Nothing’, will cost drivers almost $200,000 per lane-mile to get back to the same condition.
So, are we going to continue to kick the pothole can down the road? Or can California drivers suck it up and pay to get better roads? Remember, driving on poorly maintained roads is a double whammy - we still have to pay a gas tax at the pump, and also for the extra wear and tear repair on our vehicles.
I challenge local agencies that have a pavement management software, to run the analyses similar to what we have done for the MTC region. We owe it to our voters to provide them the facts before they cast their votes in November.
Click here for a copy of the latest Pothole Report