California transportation funding up $3 billion from last year

Last year, California had just $900 million in transportation projects for contractors to bid on, but when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger transferred $1.313 billion into the state’s Transportation Investment Fund that number more than quadrupled to $4 billion for fiscal year 2006, which began July 1, said David Anderson, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. The state’s legislature approved the bill July 6.

The funding includes expected Indian gaming revenue and regular revenue Caltrans receives from state and federal gas taxes and truck weight fees.

“The State will be able to move ahead with new projects that were approved for construction years ago and finish current projects that have been stalled because of a lack of funding,” said Caltrans director Will Kempton.

According to Anderson, Caltrans will work with its local transportation partners around the state to determine which projects will receive funding.

Proposition 42 money — taxes voters designated in 2002 for transportation projects — are taken from the state’s fuel tax. From 2002 through 2004, the funds went into the state’s general fund instead of into the Transportation Investment Fund.

This month the California Transportation Commission will plan how to spend the additional funds.

Anderson said additional savings from Caltrans efficiencies also will be redirected toward transportation projects – providing an estimated $251.6 million for the agency to apply to 2006 funding.

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