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Caltrans’ $80 Billion Plan Falls $60 Billion Short

Sacramento, CA — Caltrans says its projected $80 billion in state highway system funding needs over the next ten years are falling far short — by nearly $60 billion — of presently available revenue.

In Caltrans’ newly released 2015 Ten-Year State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) Plan, department officials indicate they expect the highway system will deteriorate due to the huge funding shortfall, requiring much more in future corrective work expenses. Although the plan estimates an annual $8 billion for necessary improvements and preventative maintenance activities, the department indicates that it has only about $2.3 billion available yearly to execute its outline of road improvements and major highway system rehabilitation, along with other long-term and “smart mobility” improvements that support its sustainability goal.

“This funding shortfall presents a serious challenge to Caltrans and this state’s transportation system,” says Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “At Caltrans, we have a ‘fix it first’ mentality, putting transportation dollars where they can be most cost-effective: on preventative maintenance to our existing infrastructure. Our maintenance dollars can only go so far, however, and California is facing much more expensive repairs to its infrastructure in the future due to a growing backlog of necessary repairs.”

Caltrans, which depends on gasoline and diesel fuel excise taxes as a primary revenue source, continues to see its funding dwindling, as more energy-efficient vehicles take to the roads and more motorists are able to tap alternative fuel and energy sources. Funding alternatives the state is currently considering include increasing gas tax or registration fees or moving to a mileage-based fee structure.

According to Caltrans, in addition to its transportation infrastructure, it is responsible for over 50,000 lane miles of the state highway system, which includes more than 13,000 bridges and structures, 30,000 acres of roadside landscaping, 205,000 culverts and drainage facilities. It estimates much of the system is over half a century old, built between the 1950s-1970s. To read more about the Ten-Year SHOPP Plan, click here.