Facing $1 Billion Infrastructure Repair Costs, California Seeks Funding Plan

Following a bombardment of Winter storms, California is facing a steep repair bill. The cost of restoring damaged infrastructure could exceed $1 billion, according to a FebruaryAP report published in Fortune. This includes about $600 million in repairs for damaged roads and highways, which is more than double the amount set aside in the state budget.

State lawmakers now have a bill on the table to fund these repairs, Capitol Weekly reports. Legislators are aiming to get this package approved by April 6.

“This is a first step toward making our roads safer, improving our quality of life and giving a much-needed boost to our economy,” said Senator Jim Beall in a press statement. “With much of our roads and bridge infrastructure past its expected lifespan, rehab and maintenance costs for both the state system and local streets and roads are skyrocketing.”

KCRA reports that one section of Highway 50 in El Dorado County completely buckled, resulting in a collapsed shoulder. Repairs for this stretch of highway alone could reach around $6.5 million. Even more daunting is a washed out section of a highway in the Santa Cruz mountains. This project is estimated to cost $15 million. In a statement to KCRA, Kelly Huston of the California Office of Emergency Services said that the state will have a more precise number as repairs continue and conditions dry out.

“We have so many disasters going on at one time,” she said. “We’re not at a point where we can give a good dollar amount.”

Further complicating this issue, both local and state municipalities do not have the proper funding to handle these repairs at this time. For comparison, the average homeowner spends between 1% and 4% of a home’s value on repairs every year. That adds up to $2,000 for a $200,000 home. Repairs to a community’s infrastructure is much more expensive.

In cases like this, the burden falls on the shoulders of the state and federal government. The state of California, however, is already facing a $6 billion annual backlog for road and highway repair.

As legislators work to complete a package to fund these projects, there are several ideas on the table. Capitol Weekly reports that state Democrats are proposing increases in fees, such as those on vehicle registration and gas taxes. This is supported by the coalition of businesses and government figures called Fix Our Roads.

“Our board feels pretty strongly that the proper way to pay for the system is where users pay for it,” Chris Lee, the legislative analyst for California State Association of Counties, said in a statement to Capitol Weekly. “We don’t want to get on the roller coaster of the state general fund.”

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