The big news was last week the Senate and Assembly passed SB 1, a $5.2 billion annual revenue measure that will fund roads, streets, bridges and an overall transportation network.
According to analysis from the League of Cities, SB 1 will generate $5.2 billion annually for transportation improvements, split equally between state highways and local streets and roads in California cities and counties.
For cities and counties, this includes $1.5 billion annually to fix local streets and roads. This is nearly double what is available today.
What does that mean for Davis? Davis will receive about $15.63 million over the next 10 years. That means about $1.56 million per year from the state.
That sounds good and frankly is good. City officials suggest that might mean traffic signal improvements, enhancements to bike and pedestrian safety and other competitive grant programs.
The problem is that it is really just a drop in bucket compared to what we need. Right now the city has carved out about $4 million in annual spending for roads. That is a vast improvement over where we were in 2010 and 2011 when the city was not putting any general fund money into roads at all.
However, as reported, we really need about $10 million per year just to maintain the current quality of roads in Davis. That level is currently at around a 63 PCI (Pavement Condition Index).
Bob Leland’s presentation was a bit confusing last week as it seemed to suggest the city would have its PCI increase to 70 in the near future before gradually retreating back to 60 by 2035.
Bob Clarke explained that the model presented was just an initial draft that was “intended to show what variables are built into the model and the output it produces. It was not intended to suggest it is in its final form and without possible refinements still needed. “
He said, “Based on my knowledge of the current overall average PCI for our roads, the value projected for 2017, near 70, seems high. While we do have a great deal of pavement-related work in progress and expected to be completed this year, I don’t know if it is enough to raise the average PCI to the 69-70 range.”
The most recent analysis back in 2015 found that the city’s unfunded road maintenance is running around $200 million over the next decade with the potential of it reaching over $350 million without additional funding.
The bottom line is that, while $15 million over ten years will be nice to have and it will allow the city to deal with some unfunded infrastructure issues, it is not going to do much to cut into the enormous backlog of unfunded needs for roads, bike paths, and sidewalks.
The short-term strategy is going to evolve around some form of tax, whether it be a parcel tax or another more specific tax.
Longer term, the city is going to continue to look into economic development and revenue strategies.
So, while the influx of state funding is good news, it comes nowhere near solving Davis’ roads problems.
—David M. Greenwald reporting