Part of the Bay Area News Group

bonding with our country cousins

By enelson
Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 at 8:15 pm in Freeways, Funding, Planning.

willits-rush-hour.jpgFor those of you who followed the tease at the end of my story on how Proposition 1B funds should be doled out (or not) to rural projects like the Willits bypass in Mendocino County, here’s a bonus.

There was a lot left unsaid in the story, probably because I like to wax poetic when discussing the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account and because there’s a lot of history behind the sorry state of California highways.

To quote Randy Rentschler (and you know I will), spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, “no one has ever shortchanged rural America.”

Mind you, I’ve an obligation to remain neutral on this point, but the stance taken by the MTC and the Bay Area Council of business bigwigs is that the $4.5 billion chunk of the $20 billion transportation bond known as the CMIA was sold to voters as a way to fix the horror that is the metropolitan freeway system.

Instead, the California Transportation Commission is saying that perhaps a half-billion of the $1.8 billion going to Northern California (SoCal gets 60 percent of the pot) could well be based not on the thousands of hours wasted every rush hour on the offending stretch of road, but on how quickly people can get from point Atwater to point Bishop.

Anyway, this shortchanging argument comes from the fact that a major federal program, combined with billions in state construction and maintenance money over the years, have done a fine job of connecting rural California to the rest of the world, at least in the eyes of Bay Area people who give such things a great deal of thought.

But the state has for years parceled out highway money, in the form of the State Transportation Improvement Program, to each and every county. The problem is, and the reason Prop 1B was seen as so necessary by nearly every elected official within 60 miles, is that those portions have been pointlessly small for many years.

Now there’s a good-sized pie to divide up, and Bay Area commuters are famished.

Photo from

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