To develop a vision and policies for moving a greater share of state transportation dollars to projects and outcomes that are more cost-effective and better aligned with environmental goals a group of transportation advocates, experts and public officials, gathered at the University of California, Los Angeles in October 2014 for a discussion sponsored by the University of California Berkeley and Los Angeles Schools of Law and recently published this findings in a new report – Moving Dollars: Aligning Transportation Spending with California’s Environmental Goals.
The report finds: California’s state, regional and local governments spend roughly $28 billion a year on transportation infrastructure projects, with almost half of that amount derived from local funding sources. Local decision-makers control almost three-quarters of these funds, while state agencies control the remaining quarter. Year after year, the majority of these dollars goes to automobile infrastructure, including new road and highway expansion projects. The continued predominant financial support for automobile infrastructure particularly new road and highway expansion projects, undermines California’s environmental goals. With relatively little funding remaining for alternative transportation modes, it also increases transportation costs for residents. And it exacerbates inequality related to housing, transportation affordability, and access to jobs.
Contributor Jeff Tumlin from Nelson/Nygaard states, “We still don’t have an objective, state-wide basis for determining good projects from bad projects. The only thing that we look at is whether the funding pieces are in place.” One of the key recommendations of the report is the need for performance measures to evaluate and select projects at the state and regional level.
The report states, “A performance standards-based model would encourage transportation decision-making that results in better outcomes in terms of traffic reduction, mobility, public health, affordability, and emissions. The standards would need to be accompanied by accountability measures and possibly land use incentives to encourage growth around sustainable infrastructure. Ultimately, these performance standards would help state leaders better communicate state goals among state agencies and to regional and local officials on transportation spending priorities.”