The bright side of the rush to collect a chunk of the $20 billion Proposition 1B transportation bond passed Nov. 7 is that there’s no shortage of projects going begging.
The first deadline, for the $4.5 billion Corridor Mobilty piece of the bond measure, is the end of this month for Bay Area congestion management agencies to complete their Christmas lists. Alameda County’s CMA, for one, already has a draft list to sumbit to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which must then winnow a regionwide list to submit to the California Transportation Commission before Jan. 15.
As I said in the story, public works projects don’t normally move at this speed.
But thanks to a number of factors, such as the way gas taxes are siphoned off to balance the state budget and the fact that it’s darned near impossible to raise taxes in this state, a lot of projects are sitting on the curb with a tin cup. The passage of Proposition 1A on Nov. 7 is supposed to fix the siphoning problem, while 1B is supposed to give a further boost to long-neglected transportation infrastructure.
“This is a downpayment on decades of neglect,” said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the MTC.
Some of you are now anxious to point out that transit has also been neglected. That’s also a big part of the estimated $4.5 billion total MTC bond gurus have guessed the Bay Area will receive. But that will come a couple months after the Corridor Mobilty request deadline next month.
Along with highways, Bay Area officials will also have be quick about straightening their priorities for something called trade corridors, a $2 billion piece of 1B that will hopefully find a way to ease the congestion caused by container trucks from the Port of Oakland.
In the end, this downpayment will not satisfy everyone, Rentschler warned:
“We’re going to get a list from the various counties in the Bay Area that is going to be much larger than we would priopose to the CTC, then we’re going to give the CTC a list thats much larger than what they’re going to give the Bay Area.”
So many billions, so little time.
Photo: Cypress Freeway reconstruction from www.fhwa.dot.gov