May 2016

Santa Cruz County to Lose $7M From State Transportation Funding Cuts

Despite strenuous efforts by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and other local voices to preserve funding for local transportation projects in Santa Cruz County, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) made funding cuts at their meeting this week in Stockton. The local funding cuts total $7 million, which is $3 million more than had been previously proposed by the CTC.

Due to the steep decline in tax revenues tied to falling gas prices and better automobile mileage, the California Transportation Commission cut more than $754 million statewide in planned highway, transit and other projects.  The decrease in gas tax revenues, compounded with the state’s decision to divert transportation revenues to repay General Obligation bond debt, and increases in fuel economy have left transportation agencies at all levels facing painful choices.

“These cuts just add to the growing transportation funding challenge in our region,” said George Dondero, Executive Director of the Regional Transportation Commission. “This latest action by the California Transportation Commission serves as yet another example of the need for reliable, long-term, local funding for transportation. Strategies such as the 2016 Transportation Improvement Plan help our local communities because the funds cannot be taken by the state or federal governments, and these funds can be used as a match to make our county more competitive for outside grants.”

RTC Commission Alternate and City of Watsonville Councilmember Lowell Hurst noted, “These cuts will be especially difficult for the residents of Watsonville, one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of the county. Traffic volume, congestion, and danger have only increased, as infrastructure continues to age and deteriorate. This situation again points to the need for our county to join the other 80% of Californians that have their own stable source of funding for transportation projects.”

More information about the Transportation Improvement Plan is on the RTC website: The RTC and Board of Supervisors are expected to take action next month to place the plan on the ballot for the November 2016 election.

The major project that lost funding in Santa Cruz County was the construction phase of Highway 1/Harkins Slough Road improvements. Students traveling to Pajaro Valley High School are currently walking in the roadway because the existing overcrossing is insufficient. The City of Watsonville is working diligently with Caltrans to improve bicycle and pedestrian access over the highway.

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