As growth resumes, transportation resources critical for supporting it are in danger of falling behind, industry experts say.
With state transportation bonds running out and federal dollars harder to come by than ever, transportation advocates and transit agency executives say they are scrambling to pay for roads, buses and other methods of serving a growing population.
“We’re going to be literally at the brink of a fiscal cliff in money that’s available for transportation,” said Will Kempton, a former executive director of the California Depatment of Transportation and now executive director with Transportation California, an industry-based advocacy group.
Kempton said a combination of factors created the situation, including cutbacks at the federal level in transportation spending and little appetite among voters statewide for new transportation bonds that would have to be paid back.
In the Sacramento region, the local sales tax to pay for transportation, which voters renewed in 2004, provides a local source for funding. But with less money from other sources, the local funding doesn’t go as far as it used to as a local match, said Mike Wiley, general manager and chief executive officer at Sacramento Regional Transit.
“You used to get discretionary dollars with an 80-percent federal match,” he said. “Now you can’t get that, and at best it’s a 50-50 match.”