Written by Peter Tateishi
California’s dilapidated roads and bridges aren’t just causing headaches and backups, they’re costing drivers $61 billion each year. According to a new report released by TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research group, the average driver loses more than $800 each year because of rough roads, time and fuel wasted, and as the result of crashes. Fresno-area drivers see significantly higher costs than the state average, to the tune of $1,665 a year. Without overdue and necessary fixes, drivers can expect decreased safety and increased congestion on roads and highways across the state.
But fixes are in place. Thanks to legislation passed last year, Senate Bill 1, the state will receive a $5 billion annual boost to fix crumbling roads and bridges. These dollars go beyond just infrastructure repairs and public safety improvements—they’re an investment in California’s economy.
According to data from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the infrastructure investment package of SB1 supports at least $182.6 billion in increased economic activity over the next 10 years, contributing $57.9 billion to the gross state product. That activity translates to roughly 682,000 new jobs, with more than 77 percent of new employment coming from outside the construction industry. These new workers will earn an average of $3.3 billion each year. Sales and product output from California businesses across all sectors will increase by $11 billion annually.
For those still questioning whether funding will be used for other things, let’s not forget that Californians passed Prop. 69 earlier this year by more than 80 percent, implementing constitutional protections to “lockbox” and restrict any state borrowing or raiding of funds for the general fund or other purposes.
Now these funds are in jeopardy thanks to a group of politicians looking to capitalize on the current political climate. Proposition 6, on the November ballot, would strip away these critical funds and jeopardize the safety of Californians in all communities across the state and stifle major economic benefits.
A broad coalition of more than 350 organizations oppose Prop 6, including the Associated General Contractors of California, California Professional Firefighters, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, American Society of Civil Engineers, business, local government, labor, environmentalists, first responders and many more. This group understands that Prop 6 kills jobs and hurts our economy and businesses. They’re fighting against Prop 6, which would stop thousands of projects currently underway in California to upgrade bridges to meet safety standards and improve the safety of our roads.
Next time you are sitting in congested traffic, drive over a pothole or travel across one of California’s 1,600 structurally deficient bridges, I urge to you think about Prop 6. It’s an attack on bridge and road safety that California simply can’t afford.
Peter Tateishi is CEO of the The Associated General Contractors of California.