Gordon Webster, Jr.

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BLOG: High-speed rail's highway robbery

The state Senate just voted to pass SB 1029, which would authorize the sale of high-speed rail bonds and allocate funds for various other projects. It's on its way to an eager Gov. Jerry Brown.

The California Trucking Association announced shortly after its opposition to a legislative move to use fees paid by California trucks to pay for debt service on HSR bonds.

Michael Shaw, vice president of external affairs for the CTA, said, “Anyone who drives on California roads or highway knows that potholes, ruts and gravel are far too common.  And the use of the critical funds that trucks pay to maintain and restore our roads for high-speed rail debt puts California commerce and drivers at greater risk.”

SB 1029 authorizes the sale of bonds that California’s General Fund cannot afford to pay back for a project that will not move a single passenger for a decade. Meanwhile, tens of millions of Californians struggle to make their way to work and back on crumbling roads.

The California Transportation Commission 10-year Transportation Needs Assessment Report rated two-thirds of California roads as “poor,” and stated that revenue projections absent this weight-fee theft leave the state more than $300 million in the hole. The hundreds of millions of dollars that SB 1029 takes from California roads will also lead to higher emissions as our trucks are unable to run at peak efficiency on crumbling roads and highways.

The 2012-13 State Budget and associated trailer bills will take more than $1 billon in weight fees to pay debt service on the HSR bonds.