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Funding Road Repairs: Gas Tax Won't Be Enough On Its Own

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Facebook post by a local politician had many asking questions Thursday. Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost asked her followers if they would rather raise the sales tax or add toll roads, in order to pay for road repairs.

Many weighed in saying they didn't want either option.

Frost said the gas tax will only cover a third of the cost to repair roads.

As one of the most highly taxed states in the nation, many Californians don't want more taxes. Toll roads would also require hiring an independent management entity approved by the legislature.

One supervisor says instead of turning to voters again, the state needs to tighten its belt.

Tom Hargrove owns Madison Avenue Florist and puts in 100 miles a day on each of his delivery trucks. He's not surprised to hear many roads in his area rate just 51 out of 100 for pavement conditions.

According to the Department of Transportation, Sacramento County will need $86 million a year for the next 15 years to get that score to 70. An additional $58 million is required to maintain roads at 70.

READ: Putting The Gas Tax To Work: Caltrans Is Hiring

SB 1, the gas tax, will provide part of the funding, but as the roads deteriorate and gas prices fluctuate, it can mean less revenue.

"The direction we're going isn't good. we need more money but where do you get that money. That's the question," Frost said.

Frost suggests taking the money from the stalled High-Speed Rail project.

"The backlog on the roads for all of California is way less than $100 billion. If we took that money for high-speed rail -we could stop the bleeding," Frost said.

The Department of Transportation continues to look at other funding sources.

"What we do to pay for a lot of roads is look for grant money and federal funds and lots of time we get grants that come with matching where we have to pint up some of the money," Matt Robinson with the Department of Transportation.

No matter what the fix, Tom Hargrove says everyone needs to sharpen their pencils.

"I want good roads but I want good fiscal responsibility," Hargrove said.

To complicate matters, the Department of Transportation said they have lost a lot of employees over the years due to retirement and has not replaced them. That staffing issue has slowed down projects, which is why some projects like the Hazel Avenue Improvement Project are prioritized. The next phase starts in 2020 and will cost $20 million.

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