California’s infrastructure is in bad shape and public safety depends on the funds from SB 1. All too often our society is reactionary. When dams break, bridges collapse or transit accidents occur due to aging systems, there is public outcry to fix what is broken. The fact is that it’s important to make repairs and upgrades before tragedy strikes. The funds from SB 1 can help.

Poor infrastructure jeopardizes public safety

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gave the country a cumulative infrastructure grade of D+. In California, 678 dams are considered to be high-hazard potential and 5.5 percent of bridges are rated structurally deficient. A total of 25 percent of California bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards and 17 percent are functionally obsolete.

Fifty percent of the 195,834 miles of public roads are in poor condition and they were a contributing factor in more than half of the 3,623 roadway fatalities on California roads in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. TRIP, a national transportation research group, states, “Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies.” While not directly stating there is a connection between rural traffic deaths and infrastructure, it’s suggested that the inability to keep up with road repairs and maintenance is a culprit.

Public safety is most valuable

The $5.2 billion a year from SB 1 gives communities across the state the opportunity to pave cracked and crumbling roads and repair aging and deteriorating infrastructure. It is estimated that an average of 68,000 jobs will be created annually, generating $3.3 billion in salaries for California workers. Drivers would save approximately $844 per year in costs they currently incur from driving on roads in need of repair.

It’s possible to put a price tag on a lot of things, but public safety is invaluable. As the Ventura County Star recently pointed out, a location where a notably fatal accident occurred had been a proposed site for a bridge since the 1990s. The money to fund its construction was never there until SB 1. If paying 12 cents more could save a life, it should seem well worth the investment that the gas tax contributes to improved infrastructure and improved public safety.