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Addressing California's Transportation Needs: Problems with Proposition 1B and Alternative Approaches

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Publication Date: September 2006

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Adrian T. Moore; George Passantino; Robert W. Jr. Poole; Ted Balaker

Topic: Transportation (Transportation policy and planning)

Type: Report

Coverage: California

Abstract:

California's population is projected to reach 48 million by 2030, an increase of 11 million people. The majority of this growth will occur in the state's three major urban regions (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego). Vehicle miles traveled by individuals will increase by 30 to 50 percent in these regions. Yet California's urban freeway systems are already nearing capacity, with pervasive congestion during ever-lengthening peak periods.

Proposition 1B, the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006, would authorize more than $19.9 billion in General Obligation debt, with an annual debt service of $1.3 billion and a total cost to taxpayers of approximately $38.9 billion. However, much less than half the money will go to projects that will relieve congestion.

We recommend improving an existing public-private partnership law to incorporate state-of-the-art learning on this issue. The legislation would authorize both CalTrans and other levels of government (cities, counties, joint powers authorities, etc.) to initiate toll-funded transportation infrastructure projects, and permit them to partner with the private sector to carry out such projects.