California’s Gas Tax Hiked for Road Repairs, but Data Shows ‘Poor’ Bridges Have Multiplied in State

When large chunks of concrete fell from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in February, temporarily closing the major traffic artery across San Francisco Bay, motorists were reminded of longstanding concerns over California’s aging road system that drove the state to raise the gas tax in 2017 to pay for repairs.

The state has spent $121 million of the gas-tax revenue on bridge and culvert projects so far, completing the repair or replacement of 89 bridges. But some elected officials are saying work isn’t happening quickly enough as new data from the Federal Highway Administration show the number of California bridges in “poor” condition has continued to increase since the tax hike.

Republican critics of Senate Bill 1, which raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and boosted diesel taxes and vehicle fees, are calling for reform measures, including the expediting of environmental reviews and tougher oversight to ensure the revenue is used as voters intended. An additional 5.6-cent increase in the gas tax takes effect July 1.

“I’m concerned and disappointed at the pace of repairs,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), vice chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “Californians are rightfully upset.”

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