Report: Calif.'s transportation budget not being effectively used

A new report by the Climate Change and Business Initiative shows that California’s yearly transportation budget of $28 billion could be used more wisely and effectively to create eco-friendly transportation options.

The report called on the California Department of Transportation (CADOT) to align the state’s environmental goals with its infrastructure goals. It also said CADOT should improve public access for walkers and bicyclists, as well as access to public transit, which would help reduce air pollution.

Lead author Ethan Elkind, associate director of the Climate Change and Business Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles  and University of California Berkeley law schools, points out that California’s budget comes from multiple sources, many of which cross purposes with each other.

“In particular, we continue to fund new expansion projects when our existing roads need repair, and safe and convenient access for transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists," Elkind said. “Too often the state sends mixed messages about where transportation dollars should go. We should have a coordinated vision across all state agencies, with tools to ensure that only the most cost-effective, pollution-minimizing projects get approved.”

The report recommended implementing several goals, including applying strict performance measures for infrastructure projects, and funding only those projects with environmental- and energy-friendly goals. The  report said the state could also find more funding for transportation projects by reducing the voter approval threshold from two-thirds to 55 percent and placing a tax on the number of miles drivers travel.

The report is one of 15 in a series of policy papers by the initiative, which focuses on how taking climate change into consideration can help policymakers create opportunities for the business community.

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California Department of Transportation

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