Highways, Bridges, Mass Transit Benefit

Four years after the passage of the historic Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), funds continue to go toward vital transportation projects throughout Southern California and across the state. Local roads, highways, bridges, mass transit, and bicycle and pedestrian routes have all benefited from the “gas tax.”

Looking back at legislation

Passage of Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, was not just an important measure, but was also historic legislation. It marked the first time fuel taxes had been raised in California since 1981. Additionally, the bill brought significant funding specifically for transportation projects with a goal of investing $54 billion over the next 10 years.

Called “controversial” by some, support for SB 1 was not unanimous. Many opponents of the bill criticized the state for failing to spend past funds allocated for transportation on transportation projects. Organizers set out to repeal the tax and put it on the ballot in November 2018 as Prop 6.

Voters rejected the measure, protecting billions of dollars in funding for road maintenance and other transportation projects.

Funds at work

Initially called a “road bill” because the vast majority of the funds are devoted to roadway maintenance, over the years SB 1 has become an overall transportation bill, providing funds for numerous transportation infrastructure projects. 

In addition to road repairs, communities have been able to make streets more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, and local and regional funding measures have focused on efforts to build a world-class regional transportation system.

Over the last four years, more than $16 billion SB 1 funds have been spent on 5,000 state and local transportation projects, including the creation of 178,000 jobs related to those projects.

Just this March, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated $491 million to address transportation needs throughout the state, including $273 million generated from Senate Bill 1.

“These critical investments will help improve California’s transportation infrastructure now and into the future,” Toks Omishakin, Caltrans director, said in a statement. “This includes improving safety and access for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, and planning for the long-term maintenance of these vital assets.”

In SoCal, funding has been essential to our poorly performing infrastructure and money has gone toward projects in:

As additional repairs and improvements are made, the CTC also works to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent as promised. As Executive Director Susan Bransen explained last year, SB 1 states that “it is the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Transportation and local governments are held accountable for the efficient investment of public funds to maintain the public highways, streets, and roads, and are accountable to the people through performance goals that are tracked and reported.”

The CTC adopted SB 1 Accountability and Transparency Guidelines, which detail specific requirements to hold Caltrans and local governments accountable for delivering projects as promised including extensive program monitoring and public reporting. The Commission also requires baseline agreements with project sponsors for increased public transparency and accountability.  

Learn more about SB 1 projects in SoCal and around the state. Plus keep up-to-date on other important infrastructure issues by listening to our podcast and signing up for the Rebuild SoCal Partnership newsletter.