Sunday, April 26, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California’s substandard highway system needs fix

walters column sig

By
From page A11 | December 01, 2013 |

Let’s start with the basics about California’s highway network, which a few decades ago was considered to be among the world’s best.

It was mostly constructed in the three decades that followed World War II, as California’s population boomed and vehicular travel exploded.

Eventually, however, just about when Jerry Brown began his first governorship, highway construction slowed dramatically for a wide variety of ideological (both left and right) and financial reasons.

Nevertheless, vehicular travel continued to expand, along with population and economic activity. It’s roughly twice what it was 30 years ago, even though California’s population has increased by about 50 percent.

The slowing of capacity-increasing construction and the steady growth of auto travel eventually resulted in California having the nation’s worst traffic congestion, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Meanwhile, highways were taking a terrific pounding from that traffic, and as the system aged, it needed more maintenance and, in some cases, reconstruction. But that, too, lagged, leaving California with what the Federal Highway Administration says are the nation’s second-worst roadway pavement conditions.

Thus, what was a world-class system became something more like a Third World system – even though California’s motorists are paying the nation’s highest fuel taxes.

Seven years ago, at the urging of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, voters approved a $20 billion bond issue to upgrade highways, but almost all of that money has been spent, and Brown, now back in the governorship, has insisted that servicing Schwarzenegger’s highway bonds should fall on the separate highway accounts, rather than the state’s general fund budget.

Brown is correct in that insistence – highway improvements should be financed by motorists – but with fuel taxes already sky-high and mounting unmet needs for construction and maintenance, how should it be done?

A ballot measure proposed by highway advocates and construction unions would double the annual “vehicle license fee” – a form of property tax that today is just a third of what it once was – to raise about $3 billion a year for highways.

It falls short of what’s needed and may not be the best way to raise highway money. Yet just raising the gas tax would largely exempt owners of hybrid and electric vehicles, whose numbers are increasing.

Ideally, we would devise a new levy that’s tied more closely to real-world highway use, not only by cars but heavy trucks as well, and that charges motorists more for driving during peak travel hours, since morning and afternoon commutes put the greatest strain on roadway capacity.

And, ideally, Brown and the Legislature would address this vital issue themselves, rather than shuffle it to the initiative process.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him at [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 8 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Legend1949December 01, 2013 - 6:40 am

    That's quite a wide open statement about highway advocates and construction unions are behind wanting to raise registration fees( yes they are still taxes) Charging a working set of parents triple the registration costs of their cars because they need large cars to carry the family just doesn't cut it I hope everyone remembers a couple of years ago when we were paying triple to get a car regestered

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895December 01, 2013 - 6:58 am

    How about on luxury cars?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalDecember 01, 2013 - 8:09 am

    Why?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksDecember 01, 2013 - 7:18 am

    Caltrans, what the heck are you thinking about?! Last night on westbound I-80 near Alamo Dr, you have flashing lights and signs warning drivers to move to the left. But gee, there’s nobody there so you create a whole lot of confusion for what? People are braking for no reason, driving slowly through the area. Any accidents will be your fault. That is pathetic and st*pid! WISE UP people!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksDecember 01, 2013 - 8:27 am

    Street, so they created multiple hazards and compounded the problem with lights and signs? Brilliant!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • streetDecember 01, 2013 - 9:29 am

    One could assume it was done so that vehicles entering the short on ramp would merge into freeway traffic at relatively slow speeds and create more of a hazard than having thru traffic merge left. The real problem was the initial design of the on ramp, but that is a different story.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksDecember 01, 2013 - 10:04 am

    street, I agree with the possibility of your assumption and totally agree with your argument on the second point!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Children enjoy day of fishing at Fairfield pond

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano cities celebrate Earth Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Hard-fought battle ends in victory

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Those addictive, terrible, wonderful smartphones

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Expo shows Kroc Center fun for whole Framily

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Supervisors consider changes in various county fees

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

Suisun police execute tobacco sting

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
Edibles in your landscape

By Daily Republic | From Page: C4

CHP offers free class for senior drivers

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Patrons raise a glass to toast a good cause

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Walk MS hits stride along Suisun waterfront

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Covered California offers Solano enrollment events

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Weather for Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
Pay close attention to investment costs

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

Be wary of next ‘big’ thing

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
.

US / World

With legalization, lawyers turn to business of pot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Remains of dismembered newborn found in South Los Angeles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Nearly 17 million watch Jenner interview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

‘Operation Babylift’ kids, soldiers reunite 40 years later

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Starbucks stores reopen Saturday after computer glitch

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Aden hit by coalition airstrikes amid fierce street battles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Mother in custody dispute freed after 8 years behind bars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

A dozen arrested as Freddie Gray protests turn violent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Italy marks 70th anniversary of anti-Nazi uprising

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

European authorities stop illegal horse meat network

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Italian navy rescues 274 from migrant ship off Libyan coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Army shutting down wounded warrior transition care units

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Warrior pose: Yoga catching on as therapy for veterans’ PTSD

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10

Toll climbs after powerful quake hits Nepal: Things to Know

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

How can we give them more?

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Primary challenge could force Harris’ hand

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Sound off for April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Corruption tarnishes values of our ancestors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Obama sides with enemy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Who’s asleep at the switch?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Brides show short wedding gowns more of the love

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Community Calendar: April 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Today in history: Sunday, April 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Vatican goes on offensive to defend US-Spanish saint

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
You get what you need with Jesus

By Noel Reese | From Page: C3, 1 Comment

How can I trust my husband after he texted a younger woman behind my back?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
Horoscope: April 26, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Veterinarians are too expensive, and it puts pets at risk

By The Washington Post | From Page: C5

Old standby body-weight training still has moves

By The Washington Post | From Page: C7

 
Milan spiffs up for Expo 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: C7

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
More copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir being printed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Amber Tamblyn writes book of poetry about dead actresses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Giants beat Rockies 5-4 in 11 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors complete sweep with 109-98 win over Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Athletics drop 3rd straight game, 9-3 to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Rain postpones NASCAR race at Richmond until Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Klitschko outpoints Jennings to defend heavyweight titles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Michael Schumacher’s son makes strong Formula 4 debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
US routs Canada 7-2 in semifinal at under-18 hockey worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Watford back in Premier League after 8-year absence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Several Kentucky Derby hopefuls get workouts in before rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Levy falters at Volvo China Open; 4 tied for lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former Expos executive Jim Fanning dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam team to lead Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Compton, Day top leaderboard in rain-plagued Zurich Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Suzuki breaks Oh’s record for runs by a Japanese player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bulldogs get 10-0 baseball win over Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Canadian teen Henderson has 1-shot lead in LPGA Tour event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
A’s place Ben Zobrist on disabled list with knee injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

7 players from Royals, White Sox punished by MLB for brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Bowling report for April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Bayless’ layup at buzzer gives Bucks 92-90 win over Bulls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
Nets beat Hawks 91-83, pull within 2-1 in series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Grizzlies hold off a late Trail Blazers rally to go up 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Hometown report: Bicycle racing, youth track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Sports on TV for Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

 
This date in sports history for April 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

What’s in a hotel name? Guests try to decipher the mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Veggies take center plate as healthy fast food chains expand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

Is ice cream safe? Federal health officials say yes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
 
Don’t panic, college seniors: Jobs for grads likely to grow

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Janis Ruth (Sefzik) Skinner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Nicole Herdia Spann

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Reginald Morris Davis

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics