Quantcast
 
Loading
WatchSonoma
WatchSonoma Watch

$1.6 billion needed to fix Sonoma County roads

By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

More than $2.7 billion is needed to repair crumbling pavement on county roads and city streets over the next decade in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties, a new report has found.

Overall road conditions in the three counties are among the worst in the state, the survey showed. The average score for Sonoma County puts it at the bottom of a group that includes most counties in the state where roads are said to be “at risk” of long-term failure.

RoadsMendocino and Lake counties are ranked even lower, grouped among seven counties statewide with overall “poor” conditions in need of more immediate and expensive upgrades.

The findings are contained in a new report released Tuesday by groups representing California counties, cities and transportation agencies and interests.

The latest survey follows on similar reports issued in 2008 and 2010. The 2012 edition pegs the 10-year maintenance backlog for county roads and city streets statewide at $72.4 billion, up 2.7 percent from two years ago.

For Sonoma County, including city streets, the needed repairs amount to $1.6 billion. A separate Sonoma County estimate not included in the statewide report put maintenance needs on unincorporated roads over the next 10 years at $920 million.

The repair total countywide in Mendocino is $617 million; for Lake County it is $450 million.

Statewide, long-range repairs to local bridges and street infrastructure, including sidewalks and storm drains, push the total 10-year repair backlog to $107.2 billion, according to the report.

But with only $25.1 billion in anticipated long-range funding, local governments are facing a combined $82.4 billion shortfall between now and 2022, up 4.8 percent from two years ago, the survey found.

The new shortfall is the equivalent of a 56-cent per gallon gas tax increase, or an additional 76 cents a day for the average California driver, survey authors said.

While not advocating for any particular tax increase, the report concludes that without additional money, repair costs will soar and “California’s local streets and roads will continue to deteriorate rapidly within the next 10 years.”

The report is part of a stronger push by local governments for additional state and federal road funds to turn the situation around.

Sacramento currently supplies about 59 percent of funds for pavement work, mainly through gas taxes. Federal funds kick in about 10 percent and local governments supply about 31 percent.

The report is largely silent on what could be biggest revenue generator: an increase in the state gas tax, which hasn’t been changed in over two decades.

It also did not address a request by Sonoma County and other rural counties to revisit distribution formulas that favor urban counties with smaller road networks.

Sonoma County road advocates said they saw little new or groundbreaking in the study.

“It is unfortunate that the report seems unable to advocate solutions,” said Craig Harrison, cofounder of Save Our Sonoma Roads, a group that’s lobbied for increased county spending on roads.

Sonoma County officials are considering several kinds of tax increases. Road advocates have acknowledged some form of tax increase may be necessary while they solicit ideas.

“Our road system is failing and if we don’t do something about it locally, nothing will change,” Harrison said.

The report did show that most California counties are faced with road repair backlogs.

Including Sonoma, 44 counties in California have local road systems that are at long-term risk of failure due to deteriorating pavement conditions and other delayed upkeep.

Seven counties, including Mendocino and Lake, are seen as worse off. Their overall “poor” pavement conditions could degrade faster and require more costly repairs, the report found.

The seven counties given a “good” road condition score were Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Orange, which had the highest ranking for pavement condition.

California counties and cities own and maintain 81 percent of the state’s public roads, a network valued at $189 billion.

The overall condition of the network has not changed since 2010. On a scale of zero (failed) to 100 (excellent), the average score statewide remains at 66.

But just to maintain that statewide average would require a nearly 150 percent increase in annual funding, from the current $1.3 billion to $3.2 billion, according to the report.

Providing that money sooner could significantly decrease future costs, the report concluded.

The report was sponsored by the California League of Cities, the California State Association of Counties, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other transportation interests.

You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.





30 Responses to “$1.6 billion needed to fix Sonoma County roads”

  1. Erik says:

    From an article by KRCB media, “Survey Results On How to Improve Sonoma County Roads”: the following statement was made:

    “In this fiscal year, the supervisors authorized a one-time expenditure of $6.5 million to improve an additional 13.2 miles of roads (about $500,000 per mile)”

    Do we really have a tax problem? No, we have a spending problem; EIR reports, permit fees, bonding insurance, Workers Comp., Prevailing Wage (union wages, which are excessive), etc. – these have made the task of road building completely unaffordable.

    At this cost it would be cheaper to buy us all jeeps!

    Don’t vote for another tax!

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. andrew simpson says:

    Dear Fiscal Conservative:

    Great idea. THe Arab Spring comes to Sonoma County. Kindly post an email address for some live person at the DOJ and I will send a letter that starts like this:
    Dear California DOJ: did you know that the County of SOnoma may be the most corrupt County in the State. Here is a list of 22 incidents I’ve compiled in the last four years recounting bad acts and unethical behavior by Sonoma COunty officials including Supervisors, County Counsel, County Auditor Controller and senior officals at the Water Agency.

    My suggestion is this. My perspective is limited. I’ve dealt mainly with the Water Agency on their unfortunate conduct on Sonoma County Energy Independence and on Sonoma Clean Power. I don’t know much about Roads or Pensions. If a dozen people in the COunty started advising the DOJ on their own direct knowledge of lies, payoffs, law breaking and unethical conduct by County officials, then such mounting chorus should get some attention.

    Again, kindly tell us whom to contact with a live email address. Thanks Andrew Simpson

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Fiscal Conservative says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears the end game is to convince the public to pay
    $1.6 Billion in new taxes for the Roads and that coincidentally will offset the $1.6 Billion
    owed in the illegal pension scam. Sounds like more fraud to me.

    So rather than the current $14,000.00 per person debt each of us has( plus interest) for
    this scam, we will owe $28,000.00 per person ( plus interest) Ummm…NO!

    We can complain, or we can be part of the cure.
    I suggest writing a simple letter to the California Department Of Justice. Simply copy the
    article from the Grand Jury finding the pension scheme illegal( from the Pension archives
    at this site) and ask for an investigation. This action will eventually bring the thieves
    before a Judge and Jury.

    Those with insight on other thievery including Scam Public Contracts should also send a
    letter to the CA DOJ.

    California has several whistleblower laws that provide protection from any possible
    retaliation. In fact any County interaction with an individual would be highly scrutinized.

    The hardworking taxpayer enjoys many freedoms that the Municipal Governments do not
    have. What I mean by this is, overnight, this County could be turned upside down. Our
    Grand Jury has already found the pension scheme illegal, but our Board Of Supervisors
    found fit to ignore that fact. The depth of the fraud by far exeeds that of Bell Ca. the City
    that imploded with debt and rebuilt itself with Court mandated restraints.

    If you ask me, mandated restraints need to happen in Sonoma County. We need honesty
    and concern for our basic public infrastructure and services restored.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  4. James Bennett says:

    Which button, when pushed will light up for you?

    Will it be the stealing/using our money to oppress us?

    The priorities that seem to defy logic and what the people want?

    Needing a Jeep to drive in the country?

    A concrete resolve to put toxic industrial waste in our water table?

    The decimation of your property rights (which speak to more than real estate)?

    The One Bay Area/Smart Train thing?

    Our public officials keeping secrets, not disclosing vital information, not standing up for us?

    I’ve been on here for a few years now trying to tell folks who’s pushing the buttons.

    I think it’s time for more of us to visit the bridge and question where this Star Ship is headed.

    Afterall, it is our ship.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  5. andrew simpson says:

    Dear Ms. Erving

    RE: your “WTF” moment

    The Press Democrat hasn’t—and almost certainly won’t—investigate the pension fund fraud against County retirees because to do so would open up a can of worms.

    It’s a pretty big can.

    The worms crawling out would include the Supervisors and the senior managers in the Water Agency, Auditor Controller and County Counsel. Not to mention a worm covered in printer’s ink: the editorial staff of the PD, who’ve been covering up the County’s corruption for years.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  6. YourLocalGovernment says:

    I see where a Petaluma man is now being prosecuted and charged with felonies over nothing more than a tragic accident where a boy was killed while helping push a disabled pick up truck.

    It was an ACCIDENT. Yet the arrogant government types, once again, use the “law” to pretend as if life is some game of obedience to them and that accidents never happen if the public only obeys.

    While you ponder that disgusting piece of news, ponder yet another example of a local government in corruption.

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/texas/article/Ex-Detroit-mayor-convicted-jailed-until-sentence-4344797.php

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  7. Annie Erving says:

    In response to Andrew Simpson:

    My – WTF?

    You stated:

    1. Want to fix this?

    Elect one Supervisor who’s not a special interests hireling; or install an Auditor/Controller who will demand answers to simple questions like, can anybody tell me

    a) Why the Water Agency spent $45 million of County pension fund money for an unnecessary solar energy loan program instead of spending it on roads?
    B) Why this $45 million County pension fund loan to the Water Agency hasn’t been repaid?

    C) Why this failed, illiquid loan to the Water Agency hasn’t been marked down (by several millions) on the County pension fund’s books? and,

    D) How the Supervisors, County Counsel, Water Agency managers and (by then-former) Auditor Controller expect to avoid fraud litigation for this massive misuse, and concealment of misuse, of County pension money?”
    In other words, to fix roads, change one key leader; expose the County’s endemic fraud; change the culture; change the way the County decides who gets what. If the County, newly, were actually run in the public interest, the roads would get fixed, real quick, without raising taxes.

    I would LIKE for the Press Democrat to investigate this.

    If this is true ….. were is the $45 million dollars taken from the County pension fund?

    It states it was loaned to the County Water Agency.

    How about some employees at the Water Agency BLOWING THE WHISTLE on the county as noted above.

    I would like to know – does anybody else want to know what happened to $45 million dollars?

    Thank you PD – IF you are going to check into this.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  8. Snarky says:

    Elephant:

    Your observation about the Press Demo enabling local government over the years is spot on.

    Its called manipulation of the reading public and the filtering of news that doesn’t meet the Press Demo’s political agenda.

    How else can they defend deleting posts from this board (doubtful they will allow this to publish) or how else can they defend their NOT sending a photographer to the stop sign that the deputies routinely run near their office / court house?

    The Press Demo is manipulative today just as it always has been. AND… they lack the courage to admit it. They simply pursue their own political agenda…. readers and subscribers be damned.

    Any other media outlet would be taking photos of the traffic violator deputies and publishing same. Not the PD.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  9. Elephant says:

    Andrew Simpson – You are 100% correct that Our “road problem” isn’t about roads. It’s about the PD enabling that status quo that has existed in Sonoma County politics for a good 30 years and voters believing what they print.

    By the way, you forgot about the gigantic slush fund that is the Sonoma County Agricultural Protection and Open Space District. They taxpayer money that they have diverted to a select few is staggering… and all legal.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  10. WineGal says:

    Oh! I thought we were going back to dirt roads, silly me! That’s what our road looks like out here in West County. So sad when I see our neighbors are out there putting their own asphalt mix in the holes that are so large they can destroy our cars tires and who knows whatelse! What is wrong with this picture?

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  11. Follower says:

    Maybe we should start an “Infrastructure Union” and 20% of every dollar spent on roads could go to pay lobbyists to grease the politicians into diverting more funds for road maintenance.

    Isn’t that how it works?

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 4

  12. andrew simpson says:

    Our “road problem” isn’t about roads.

    It’s about local civic culture that enables us to get behind a billion here (pensions), a billion there (roads), and yet another billion dollar headache in the making, Sonoma Clean Power.

    Here’s how it works.

    The County of Sonoma is run by and for a few score big campaign contributors and special interests.

    They’re the County’s owners.

    These County’s owners direct their hired help, the Supervisors, in disbursing County funds.

    The Supervisors in turn often use the Water Agency as bagman and paymaster to divert public monies back to the County’s owners and friends of the owners.

    The Water Agency’s methods of choice for these activities include creating no bid contracts which require no work, or which entail some work for unwarranted pay.

    County Counsel’s job, in turn, is to leap to the defense of these illicit arrangements with erudite, lighter than air legalese.

    The County Auditor Controller’s job is to look the other way, while publicly extolling the civic virtue and economic benefits of these arrangements.

    This isn’t conspiracy. It’s wine country Babbit. It’s civic culture. It’s people you see at the golf course or in the frozen food aisle at Safeway. It’s regular folks who lie, break the law and make payoffs because everybody else is doing it.

    Want to fix this?

    Elect one Supervisor who’s not a special interests hireling; or install an Auditor/Controller who will demand answers to simple questions like, can anybody tell me

    a) why the Water Agency spent $45 million of County pension fund money for an unnecessary solar energy loan program instead of spending it on roads?

    B) why this $45 million County pension fund loan to the Water Agency hasn’t been repaid?

    C) why this failed, illiquid loan to the Water Agency hasn’t been marked down (by several millions) on the County pension fund’s books? and,

    D)how the Supervisors, County Counsel, Water Agency managers and (by then-former) Auditor Controller expect to avoid fraud litigation for this massive misuse, and concealment of misuse, of County pension money?”

    In other words, to fix roads, change one key leader; expose the County’s endemic fraud; change the culture; change the way the County decides who gets what. If the County, newly, were actually run in the public interest, the roads would get fixed, real quick, without raising taxes.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 7

  13. Joe says:

    What about measure “M” money? Oh that’s right the dumb train took it. These monies were supposed to be used on our roads! And now you want more! If we are taxed more, where is that going to go?

    And we also pay at the pump, but that goes to the big cities, not our small towns, we need to get that for our local roads.

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 5

  14. bear says:

    LMAO! You folks really think that republican austerity plans are going to result in better roads for Sonoma County?

    Delusional.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 31

  15. Grapevines says:

    Don’t worry, everyone.

    We might not have enough to pave our roads, but by golly, we have enough to fund multiple foreign wars with American resources and combat troops.

    Why, right now, American troops are settling in ON African soil. Yep. American combat troops are now ON African soil in addition to the US Navy patrolling African coastal waters.

    You can’t have paved roads AND play “hero” to the world at the same time. Get used to it.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 11

  16. Sy says:

    Another unfundid future liablity that needs to be accounted for. We need drastic change nationwide in how we address our failing infristructure. As with anything, or government fails to address any issue until it becomes an emergency. Well, we are there.

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 4

  17. R.B. Fish says:

    I like the idea that’s floating around of a Pension Use Tax somewhat like the Property Use Tax. Instead of taxing captial gains it clould be taxing Pension Gains. If the annual pension is $30K the tax is very small and as it escalates the more the tax.Do this and eliminate illegal immigration the roads get fixed, education gets better and no taxes.If it’s on the ballot the children BOS would have no control.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 15

  18. Dan says:

    The truly horrifying situation regarding the condition of our roads speaks volumes about how Sonoma Co. manages it’s money. Wait, did I manage? Sorry, my mistake.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 9

  19. Steveguy says:

    While we all know ( or should ) that the Board of Stupes has purposely let our roads deteriorate, I do have a problem trusting the numbers.
    After all, look who put together the report:

    “The report was sponsored by the California League of Cities, the California State Association of Counties, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other transportation interests.”

    I wouldn’t trust any of those, especially ‘other transportation interests”.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 8

  20. Phil Maher says:

    Pensions, Roads, Pensions, Roads….Soon to be…. Pensions, Roads, Power Company……

    It sure does seem like the little people we have running things fall down pretty consistently when the going gets rough, the real stakes get higher, and everything we’ve built and paid for already is turning to S*** because they’ve let it. Weak! Penny Ante “leaders” that are in way over their heads in all things that matter. I hate that.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 11

  21. James Bennett says:

    What a coincidence, the most ICLEI adherent hotbed in the Country has the worst rural roads in California.

    MTC and Calif. League of Cities conducting the study is like having former Monsanto execs heading the FDA, oh wait…they do.

    At any rate, those treasonous groups credited with conducting the ‘study’ at the end of this propaganda piece have a stake in the results. That’s why the Agenda calls them ‘Stakeholders’.

    They are complicit in the decimation of rural, country and even suburban life. Consistant with the One Bay Area Plan. Our way of life won’t be ‘sustainable’, but their over paid, unnecessary positions will be.

    Guess who the VMT/road/bridge taxes go to? MTC. This NGO will grow from our oppression, installing globalist hardscape.

    Here’s the thing, the County DELIBERATELY let the road maintenance get in the rears. Once the integrity of the road surface has been fractured and undermined with water, it becomes much more expensive.

    Then they’re playing catch up, coming from behind, with a much more daunting task.

    Kinda like us maintaining our freedoms, with every tepid, apathetic day that we allow to pass.

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 10

  22. Elephant says:

    GAJ – you wrote “What a complete failure the Boards of Supervisors over the last 30+ years have been…every last one of them.”

    I couldn’t agree more. To the best of my knowledge, Susan Gorin is the first person elected to the BoS WITHOUT a Press Democrat endorsement in at least 30 years. Therein lies the root of many of Sonoma County’s problems.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 11

  23. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Some of you out there are really mean. It’s ok to disparage the BOS. They’re elected and are the third highest paid BOS in the state. But when you attack the rank and file, that’s just not fair. THEY WANT TO FIX THE ROADS. The road crew has been halved and can’t keep up. Now if you start screaming at the BOS to get rid of at least 50 high paid managers they could add another $5M to the road crew budget and hire more workers and buy more equipment. The road crew only makes a little more the $20 per hour so THEY AREN’T THE PENSION PROBLEM.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 29

  24. Grapevines says:

    GAJ said that I forgot to include the Power Agency that the BOS wants to set up.

    GAJ, just by using as an example how they have maintained the roads, consider how that agency will be after a few years.

    I doubt if half the lights in the county will have electricity running to them with the mismanagement example we see happening now. We’ll be back into the stone age in less than a decade.

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 8

  25. GAJ says:

    Grapevines, you forgot to include in your list the new Power Agency these clowns want to set up despite the fact that all our electricity in the County is already “green” as it is produced by The Geysers.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 10

  26. The Answer says:

    The socialists on the bored of stupervisors totally believe that we should all walk, ride bicycles or public transportation to get to work if you are lucky enough to have a job or you need to go to the store.

    Destroying our roads is all part of their plan. Never mind that we pay gas taxes, property taxes, sales taxes etc. supposedly to take care of essential services like good roads.

    Thinking you are going to turn this around is whistle in the dark hoping someone will turn it all around.

    While we have socialist public unions and their wingmen running the ship of state things will remain as they are.

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 15

  27. Skippy says:

    The money to fix the roads can be found in County retirees mailboxes every month.

    Thumb up 44 Thumb down 8

  28. Grapevines says:

    We can spend money on Public Employee raises, but don’t fix the roads!

    Spend money on unfunded pension promises, but don’t fix the roads.

    Toss shovel fulls of money on SMART Trains, but don’t fix the roads.

    Lets not forget Gov Moonbeams Bullet Train to nowhere, but don’t fix the roads.

    New iPads for the City Council, but don’t fix the roads.

    And studies on everything on the planet, especially if the bicycle collation asks for them, but don’t fix the roads.

    Excuse me Sacramento who is raising the taxes per gallon on the gasoline we purchase, when are the roads going to be fixed???

    Thumb up 41 Thumb down 13

  29. Fed Up Taxpayer says:

    They are receiving money that Used to be used to upkeep the roads and have decided to use it for their “General Fund” instead and pay other bills. Now the state and counties are trying to find ways to create taxes for single items like roads. Our money is being mismanaged and we are going into deeper into debt and our leaders only care for getting themselves reelected and pleasing a few special interest groups that support them.

    Thumb up 40 Thumb down 11

  30. GAJ says:

    What a complete failure the Boards of Supervisors over the last 30+ years have been…every last one of them.

    Complete abrogation of their cumulative responsibilities.

    Their perks should be completely stripped and their pay cut in half and the savings applied to road maintenance.

    Thumb up 41 Thumb down 9

Leave a Reply