One Takeaway from Disaster is How Much We Need Good Roads

(Excerpt from Sacramento Bee story)

The first cars drive along the newly opened section of Highway 1 across the Mud Creek Slide on the Big Sur Coast of Calif., Wednesday, July 18, 2018. The scenic stretch in the popular tourist area along the California coast reopened to traffic Wednesday, more than a year after it was blocked by a massive landslide, officials said. (Joe Johnston/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP) Joe Johnston AP

Global warming is here. Its impact won’t be receding. Ever more volatile weather systems will be sink-holing roads, undermining bridges and sluicing boulder-filled mud down onto critical rail lines and transportation links.

That’s something to keep in mind as the Nov. 6 election approaches, with its partisan debate over whether to repeal California’s recent tax increases for roads and transportation. Proposition 6, part of a strategy to drive up conservative turnout in the 2018 election, would put the kibosh on some $52 billion worth of transportation funding over the next decade.

And as The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff reported on Tuesday, if the repeal succeeds, its backers are already planning a follow-up initiative to severely restrict the use of transportation revenue from fuel taxes, car sales taxes and truck weight fees.

Tempting as it may sound to save a few cents at the pump – or to aim a satisfying, anti-tax kick in the pants at spendthrift state lawmakers – voters should remember that there’s a price for the short-term pleasure of jerking purse strings.

What’s that price? For starters, about 6,500 bridge and road safety, transportation and transit projects if Proposition 6 passes, according to a recent estimate from the nonpartisan American Road & Transportation Builders Association. That and $5 billion a year or more in cuts to other state obligations, such as courts and universities, if the follow-up ballot measure succeeds, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis.

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