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Props. 1A and 1B Address CA’s Transportation Needs

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Aired 4/19/09

Part of the huge multi-billion dollar infrastructure package on the California ballot includes money for transportation projects. A recent study found that five of the state’s biggest cities, including San Diego, have substandard roads. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce tells us whether Proposition 1A and Proposition 1B would have an impact on San Diego’s clogged commute.

It’s another typical day for thousands of commuters in San Diego County – where many spend hours getting to work each day – stuck in gridlock.

Traffic Report: Well still a very busy Thursday morning commute. On the southbound 15 at Felicita Road an accident is clearing off the freeway at the 78, there’s still ….

Propositions 1A and 1B on the November ballot may not make that ride to work easier, but they promise money to reduce congestion by expanding freeways. However the Propositions take different roads to get there. Prop 1A would tweak the state constitution to restrict the use of the state sales tax on gasoline. The result would mean more of that money would be spent on transportation projects. Assembly member Jackie Goldberg is against Prop. 1A because of the spending restrictions.

Goldberg: That means that there are no priorities that could ever be more important than a highway or fixing potholes. I don’t believe that’s what Californians believe.

Supporters of Prop. 1A say spending more of the sales tax collected on gas for transportation projects is a good idea. California Taxpayer Protection Committee spokesman Tom Hudson supports 1A. He says he’d prefer that all of the sales tax collected on gas at the pump be used only for transportation.

Hudson: So I don’t think it gets us where we want to go but it’s certainly an improvement over current law.

Prop. 1A does allow the state to borrow money from the fund twice in ten consecutive fiscal years for non-transportation projects.

Proposition 1B promises the most of the two measures. From highway safety to traffic reduction and port security, Prop. 1B would sell $20 billion worth of bonds. The state estimates that repaying the bonds will cost nearly $39 billion over 30 years. While they support Prop. 1A, the California Taxpayer Protection Committee doesn’t like Prop. 1B. Spokesman Tom Hudson says the measure asks the state to assume too much debt: 

Hudson: 1A says let’s spend the money that we’re already collecting on roads, 1B Is exactly the opposite. 1B is let’s spend our grandkids money on studies for roads and studies for other things.

Proposition 1B would also pay for improvements in security and disaster planning at publicly owned ports, harbors and ferry facilities. Brad Barnum is a member of the San Diego County Chamber of Commerce transportation committee. Barnum says 1B includes money for several highway projects in San Diego County.

Barnum: This is an example here, right at I-805/I-5, where if Proposition 1B passes, a number of projects on the I-805 all the way down from Chula Vista up to the I-805/I-5 merge – there will be a four-lane managed lane program, just like there is on I-15 going on right now.

Barnum says Prop. 1B would pay for new freeway and carpool lanes and provide money for county rail and transit projects, such as new stations and tracks for the Blue Line Trolley.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature worked to put the propositions on the ballot as part of a major infrastructure package. A recent poll by El Cajon-based Datamar, shows both 1A and 1B leading by comfortable margins. Both propositions require 50-percent to pass. Ed Joyce, KBPS News.

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