Days before voters decide whether to repeal an increase in statewide gas taxes, a group of San Gabriel Valley elected and transportation officials gathered Wednesday to tout the benefits of the tax and highlight local projects benefiting from the revenue.
According to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, revenue generated by the SB 1 gas tax increases that took effect last year will provide $290 million toward the $1.4 billion Gold Line rail extension to Montclair, $78 million for bridge repairs and $66 million for repairs on the Orange (57), Pomona (60) and Chino Valley (71) freeways.
“New SB 1 trade corridor program funds commit $78 million needed for construction of the final rail-roadway grade separations along the Alameda Corridor-East trade corridor,” said San Gabriel City Councilwoman Juli Costanzo, who chairs the SGVCOG capital projects and construction committee that oversees the $1.7 billion ACE program.
Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, whose district includes Pomona and other Inland Empire communities, said the gas tax revenue “commits $44 million toward the conversion of an unfinished segment of the state Route 71 in Pomona from a four-lane expressway to an eight-lane freeway, closing the last remaining freeway gap in Los Angeles County.”
The junction of 57 and 60 freeways is the worst truck-traffic chokepoint in California and the fifth worst in the United States, according to SGVCOG officials.
The officials spoke out days ahead of Tuesday’s election, when voters will decide on Proposition 6, which would repeal Senate Bill 1, which increased taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 20 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, along with some car registration fees. The increases are projected to raise $5.2 billion a year, with the money earmarked for road and bridge repairs.
Opponents of the tax spearheaded an initiative drive to get Proposition 6 on the ballot, contending that the state already has money to fund transportation projects statewide, but has diverted funds to other issues.
“The cost of living is already on the increase in California and families are struggling to survive. This is unacceptable,” Prop 6 organizer Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, said earlier this year of the gas tax hike. DeMaio and other Prop 6 backers contend that under the gas tax and vehicle registration fee hikes, the average family of four can expect to pay almost $800 more this year alone.