Monday, April 27, 2015

Transportation leaders point to need for funding changes

By Kevin W. Green
April 25, 2015

FAIRFIELD — A trio of elected and appointed officials agree: Changes are needed in transportation funding and now is the time to make those changes.

That point of view was shared Friday during a Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, was joined on stage by Supervisor Jim Spering and Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls.

Each pointed to cuts in several funding sources as leading to what they described as the need for action.

Frazier spoke of recent action by the state Board of Equalization to change how money paid at the gas pump is divvied up. Spring and Halls said those cuts reduce funding to Solano County for local transportation projects.

The trio agreed it will require a unified effort and the support of the public to address transportation issues on the local level. They acknowledged it will take some work to gain the support of voters. Frazier pointed to actions by lawmakers in Sacramento as fueling a lack of support. He said the state Department of Transportation must be fixed first.

Halls agreed with Frazier, pointing to a need to regain the public’s confidence in government spending.

Frazier said his transportation funding proposal represents substantial spending, and that this is the year to make it happen.

“Our approach will be to spread the pain,” Frazier said of his plan. “We’ll use a portfolio of options to raise money, so that nobody bears the full brunt of the impact. I’m pushing for a ‘go bold or go home’ approach. And for those of you who don’t know me, I won’t go home until we get what we need to accomplish this goal.”

Frazier wants to encourage public-private partnerships. The state needs to get shippers, manufacturers and businesses involved, he said. The state also needs to encourage private enterprise to make capital investments in transportation systems, he said.

Spering said the growing economy will turn attention to issues with area roadways. During the recession, everybody had the tendency to look the other way as streets and roads were not getting fixed, he said. Now that the economy is getting better, the pressure is being put on the system and it’s deteriorating, he said.

The elected officials spoke of a balanced approach to transportation funding that involves federal, state, regional and local tax dollars.

Spering said the regional approach features a “fix it first” philosophy. For the next 25 years, 88 percent of total spending through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is scheduled for fixing and maintaining the system, he said.

“You cannot build new projects on a crumbling foundation,” he said.

Reach Kevin W. Green at 427-6974 or

This version corrects the spelling of Supervisor Jim Spering’s last name in the penultimate paragraph.