$3 toll hike plan has Bay Area politicos dueling for dollars

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Traffic streaming across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco on a weekend evening. photo by zrants.

East Bay officials are threatening to oppose a regional ballot measure calling for a toll increase of as much as $3 on area bridges unless they get a bigger cut of the pie — and that’s triggered some last-minute political wheeling and dealing to get everyone on board with the transportation initiative.

“We are talking about an extra $700 a year,” Orinda Vice Mayor Amy Worth said of her suburban constituents.“These are working people who use the bridges to get to their jobs.”

Worth, who as a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has a say in how transit dollars are allocated, has some prominent company in questioning how the proposed ballot measure is being put together. State Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat, and GOP Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon say BART in particular needs to be well policed if it’s going to be trusted with millions of additional toll dollars.

“The current proposal falls well short,” said Glazer, who has been on a one-man crusade against BART ever since a pair of 2013 strikes at the transit agency made life miserable for riders in Orinda and everywhere else in the East Bay…

Beall said lawmakers have about two weeks to reach a deal if the measure is to make the ballot next year. Whatever eventually lands there probably has a decent chance of passing, regardless of whether the East Bay officials endorse it… (more)

Supervisors vent frustrations over reportedly slow, unnecessary roadwork

By Joshua Sabastiani : sfexaminer – excerpt

upside-down

This sign on Bryant and 16th Street illustrates the lack of direction and focus we feel as we navigate the “complete streets” projects springing up in patches all over the city. The anger and frustration is boiling over and being directed at the supervisors. Photo by zrants.

City agencies responsible for roadwork were in for a bumpy ride Wednesday as supervisors aired their frustrations over such issues as sluggish pothole repairs and allegations of wasting $40,000 on an unnecessary bulb-out project at one intersection.

The frustrations built up during a hearing Wednesday before the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee over a road condition report. But the hearing quickly turned into litany of complaints from members of the board. (See meeting transcript Item 1. Update on Street Resurfacing Program and Analysis of the 2016 TRIP Report.)

The tension comes as The City is increasingly investing in repaving roads and changing streetscapes to make them safer for pedestrians and bicycles and more efficient for Muni, in addition to greater investments in sewer and water infrastructure. Complications arising from a private sector development boom have also added to such frustrations…(more)

The Supervisors appear to have divided up the job of investigating various coplaints.

Supervisor Breed complained about an popular $40 K bulbout, but, she missed the extremely expensive sidewalk extensions along the bus stops cost upwards of $250 K. The bulbout campaign to slow the cars is capturing the Muni buses and fire trucks, slowing down instead.

Supervisor Peskins took on the potholes and discovered that the 311 coplaints are marked completed when they are passed to other city departments to be fixed, not when they are completed. He also complained about multiple digs in one area.

Supervisor Fewer voiced her concern that the SFMTA plans to put off pothole repairs on Geary until they start the BRT project. The heavy filled buses do as must damage to the streets as the trucks, so the more buses you have the more larger potholes and Geary is full of heavy full buses.

The hearing comes as Mayor Ed Lee’s budget, which was approved on Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, includes $90 million in roadwork investment during the next two years. That investment will fund the resurfacing of at least 600 blocks annually…

“Given this huge investment in our streets, we need to get things right, and that includes investing in and prioritizing coordination,” Peskin said…

Thomas said the coordination is occurring with weekly design meetings among the agencies, bi-weekly meetings with PG&E and a project database charting out work five years ahead.

“Coordination is the key to everything that we do,” Thomas said.

But Fewer said they need to look for ways to augment it.

“We are seeing this added need for greater coordination,” she said…(more)

Residents would say this coordination needs to come with public scrutiny, input and prioritization. the five year plan needs to be a two0-year plan that matches the budget allotment.

RELATED:
Analysis: Traffic-slowing construction projects have doubled in SF in past decade

FewerPotholes repair effort kicks off in the Richmond District

Sarah B. : richmondsfblog – excerpt

Have more potholes to report? Be sure to use 311 to let the city know. You can call 311 or use their handy mobile app which lets you mark the location accurately and even upload a photo. Photo by zrants.

Last month, we asked you all to submit reports of your peskiest potholes in the neighborhood as part of the #FewerPotholes campaign. The project was created by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Fewer who convinced DPW to commit a dedicated crew to the Richmond District to repair potholes reported by residents…

The #FewerPotholes repair effort kicked off last Friday with Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Fewer and Public Works Deputy Director Larry Stringer donning hard hats and picking up shovels to fill in the first pothole on 27th Avenue between Geary and Clement…

“I’ve heard for months that the state of our roads and the number of potholes were of concern to residents in my neighborhood,” said Supervisor Fewer…(more)

RELATED:
Motorcyclie Mama : Even if you don’t live in the Richmond District, you can still ask the DPW to take action: According to their website, people who report potholes via 311 can expect them to “repair any pothole that is our responsibility within 48 hours during week days.” So go ahead, report those potholes, and let us know how it goes!

Report but don’t hold your breath. I filed a report with photos of the ones on Carolina at least 3 months ago, and that street is still a mess.

 

 

Would higher gas tax fill our spreading potholes?

By Gary Richards : mercurynews – excerpt

With heavy storms wreaking havoc on California roads to the tune of $600 million — damages that Caltrans says could top $1 billion by spring — Bay Area traffic heavyweights joined forces Monday to push for higher gas taxes and auto registration fees to raise $6 billion a year for the state’s dilapidated roads.

“It is fiscally irresponsible to wait until our roads fail,” said State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee, at a press conference to garner support for his gas tax bill. “We can’t ignore repairs. Eventually, we have to pay.”

SB-1 would hike the state gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over three years, charge electric cars an annual fee of $100 and increase the registration for all vehicles by $38. San Jose would be one of the big winners, getting $39 million a year from Beall’s measure, with $19 million more coming from the Measure B sales tax approved in November. San Jose transportation director Jim Ortbal called it a game changer, “huge.”…

Republicans and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, however, oppose any tax increases and, instead, want to divert money from the high-speed rail project and the state’s general fund to filling potholes…

But Beall doesn’t want the general fund touched for road repairs. “That’s a non-starter,” he said. “No way.”

Coupal suggests taking nearly $9 billion in bonds from high-speed rail for road construction.

“If voter approval is deemed necessary,” Coupal said, “that measure passes in a heartbeat.”… (more)

Here comes Lucy again with the football. What are the chances she will not pull it away again?

RELATED:
Gas tax proposed to help pay for much-needed San Jose road repairs: (video included)

Why plunging asphalt prices haven’t sparked an infrastructure boom

By Rayhanul Ibrahim : yahoo – excerpt

NY-pothole.jpg

A massive NYC pothole. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

If you haven’t repaved your driveway or parking lot yet, now might be the time to do so.

Over the past 18 months, asphalt prices have plummeted from about $600 to a ton to about $300 a ton. That’s because petroleum prices dropped during the same time period, and that’s the biggest cost factor for asphalt mix, which is needed for driveways, parking lots and roads.

At first blush, it may seem like falling asphalt prices would be a boon for public-road building contractors. You’d think governments would want to get as much road work done right now before the price of asphalt starts to rise again. In theory, this explosion of construction would boost contractor revenue in the short-term while helping improve our roads.

Seems like a win-win scenario, right?

It turns out falling asphalt prices haven’t been such a boon for contractors because governments have very limited annual funding for infrastructure improvement like new roads, according to T. Carter Ross, spokesperson for the National Asphalt Pavement Association. Governments can’t take advantage of low asphalt prices to give contractors much more work, because they’re already using all the funding they have for roads every year.

“The amount of work our road system needs far outstrips the available funding at every level,” T. Carter Ross said to Yahoo Finance.

To be sure, roads partly pay for themselves, via tolls and state and federal taxes added to the cost of gas for your car. However, gas taxes and motor vehicle license fees covered just 41.4% of funding for road construction in 2013, the last year for which data is available, according to the Tax Foundation. That tax-focused think tank further noted that this ratio is likely to fall over time “as state gas tax rates do not keep up with inflation.”

The state of roads may be particularly bad because for over a decade before 2015, the US went without a long-term federal bill for road funding. While Congress finally passed a five-year bill to fund roads and other infrastructure projects in 2015, it hasn’t been sufficient to compensate for years of underfunding.

Last year, the Business Roundtable — a pro-business association of CEOs — put out a paper noting “much of the nation’s infrastructure has fallen victim to neglect, underfunding, under-appreciation and the natural erosion that comes with age.”

To be clear, local governments may be able to use the low price of asphalt to repave a few more of these eroded roads than they would if asphalt were more expensive. They could also be getting some more bang for their buck because contractors might end up lowering their bids to compensate for the lower cost of the asphalt, according to Carter Ross.

Unfortunately, the number of newly paved roads will be limited since local governments can’t ramp their spending up too much — even though it doesn’t make economic sense to defer the spending to the future when asphalt will likely be priced higher…(more)

JUST THE FACTS
U.S. Economy Would Benefit from Rebuilding America’s Transportation Infrastructure
In Road to Growth: The Case for Investing in America’s Transportation Infrastructure,
Business Roundtable outlines the economic cost of neglecting the nation’s
transportation infrastructure and the positive effects of rebuilding it for the 21st century:
◗ America Is No. 16: The United States’ overall infrastructure quality ranks 16th, behind Germany, France and Japan.
◗ Highways and Bridges: Urban highway congestion cost the economy more than $120 billion in 2011, and nearly one in four bridges in the national highway system is structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
◗ Waterways and Ports: Lock delays, port congestion and lack of facilities for larger ships added $33 billion to the cost of U.S. products in 2010.
◗ Aviation: The United States is home to just four of the world’s top 50 airports, and aviation congestion and delays cost the economy $24 billion in 2012.
◗ Transit Rail: Only 25 percent of transit rail station infrastructure is rated “good” or “excellent.”
Increased investment in public infrastructure leads to significant economic benefits:
◗ Up to $320 billion in economic output would be generated in 2020 if U.S. infrastructure investment were boosted by 1 percent of GDP per year.
◗ 1.7 million jobs would be created over the first three years by an $83 billion infrastructure package.
◗ As much as $3 in economic activity is created by every $1 invested in infrastructure. The nation’s leaders can change course and rebuild this vital national asset. It’s time to strengthen our economic foundation by reinvesting in transportation
infrastructure. Learn more about how investment in America’s transportation infrastructure will pay off for all of us at brt.org/road-to-growth.
Business Roundtable CEO members lead companies with $7.2 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 16 million employees. Business Roundtable member companies comprise more than a quarter of the total market capitalization of U.S. stock markets and invest $190 billion annually in research and development — equal to 70 percent of U.S. private R&D spending. Our companies pay more than $230 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate more than $470 billion in sales for small and medium-sized businesses annually. Business Roundtable companies also make more than $3 billion a year in charitable contributions.  Please visit us at www.brt.org, check us out on Facebook and LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter… (more)

 

‘Contraflow’ bike lane opens on Polk Street as bike month gets into gear

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco city leaders and bike advocates kicked off Bike Month this morning with the opening of a “contraflow” bike lane at the corner of Polk and Market streets.

The $2.5-million project came together in the past year to build a smooth connection from Market Street to northbound Polk Street by funneling bicyclists traveling against traffic onto a green bike lane that passes City Hall.

The city’s Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru joined San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency transportation director Ed Reiskin and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim to cut the ribbon on the lane as dozens of riders perched on bikes watched…

Most of the funding for the new ($2.5 million) lane came from Proposition B, the $248-million Road Repaving and Street Repair bond, which San Francisco voters passed in 2011, and from the SFMTA’s 2009 Bike Plan… (more)

Voters please note what the Prop “B” (sold as a Road repaving and street repair bond) bond money was spent on and vote accordingly the next time SFMTA wants more money.