California announces initial list of priority infrastructure projects ready for funding

Working with local cities, counties, and regions, California put forward an initial list of priority infrastructure projects today to the National Governor’s Association for consideration by the federal government. These key projects represent over $100 billion in targeted investments around the state. These investments will build and improve roads, levees, bridges, ports, and train and public transit systems. The total list also includes water storage and recycling projects, as well as energy, military, veterans and emergency operations facilities and services.

In the short-term, these projects will benefit businesses up and down the state and put thousands to work -many in communities with the highest rates of unemployment. Long-term, this investment will have lasting, expansive economic benefits by moving goods and people faster, protecting vulnerable communities from flooding, bolstering emergency response capabilities, saving and storing more water and improving energy reliability.

To prepare for the future – and complement federal investments – California is doing its part by working on legislation to ensure a permanent and sustainable funding stream is in place to further support road, highway and other critical infrastructure construction and improvements – part of a I0-year transportation investment plan.California is home to one out of every eight Americans and when we build in California, we build for America.

Find the list of projects here:

Road Charge pilot is approaching its halfway mark!

California continues to face a transportation funding shortfall and the state’s drivers are paying the price. According to the latest National Urban Roads report from TRIP, a national transportation research group, California has some of the worst road conditions in the country. The TRIP report emphasized the need for a long-term sustainable funding source for highway maintenance.

Caltrans is doing its part with its “fix it first” method to utilize funding to perform preventive pavement maintenance to save taxpayer money on more expensive repairs in the future but with fuel efficiency on the rise, aging roadways, and increased construction costs, the gas tax no longer meets California’s current and long-term transportation funding needs.

In response to this problem, the Legislature directed CalSTA to study a mileage based fee as an alternative to the current gas tax revenue system. The pilot allows CalSTA to explore an alternative to the traditional gas tax which has not been raised since 1992. The program examines how this type of sustainable transportation funding model might function in a large state like California, while taking into account important aspects like privacy concerns, usability, and participant feedback.

In July, Caltrans launched the California Road Charge Pilot Program (RCPP) to research the viability of a mileage based transportation funding model.The RCPP has enrolled over 5,000 private and commercial vehicles statewide. Participants of the 4,567 private vehicles in the program represent the diverse demographic, geographic and socio-economic population of California.


Participants are utilizing multiple mileage reporting methods including manual reporting, low technology, or high technology (automated) reporting. Mileage reporting technologies being tested in the pilot range from plug-in devices and smartphone apps to time permits and odometer readings. Of the participants using automated reporting, 65% opted for location based reporting. A more detailed breakdown of participant mileage reporting methods can be viewed here.

At this point in the pilot, participants have had the opportunity to view mock up invoices for their road usage charge and make monthly simulated payments based on mileage driven. The pilot program allows for transparency, allowing drivers to see the relationship between how much they use the roads and how much they should pay to maintain them. Participants are now approaching the halfway point in the pilot program and they will have the opportunity to switch reporting methods and/or their Account Manager from November 1st to 15th.

The federal government has recognized California’s efforts to research funding alternatives and awarded Caltrans with a $750,000 grant to enhance the current pilot program. These grant dollars will help Caltrans engage with the public on transportation funding and future alternative methods of revenue generation. It will also allow the pilot to improve organizational structure, expand education and outreach, and explore alternative mileage reporting and recording options. This research will help inform the Administration and the Legislature on the efficacy of the program.


Overall, the pilot has received positive feedback from participants in regards to satisfaction rates. Based on results from a participant survey, 76% of participants found the pilot easy to participate in and were satisfied with their mileage reporting option. Pilot program participant KPCC Reporter Meghan McCarty talked about her pilot experience so far on public radio, hear what she had to say here.

The diverse group of participants will help strengthen this potential transportation funding system. Their feedback will be included into a final pilot report that CalSTA will submit to the California Legislature, California Transportation Commission, and the Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee in June 2017.

To learn more about the California Road Charge Pilot Program, visit its website at:

California’s Road Charge Pilot Program Launches Today

volunteer graphicSACRAMENTO – Caltrans has officially launched California’s new pay-by-mile Road Charge Pilot Program, where selected volunteer participants will help the state gain insight into an innovative way to finance California’s transportation infrastructure. This pilot will be an opportunity to study road charge alternatives to the gas tax and will provide the Legislature with the data needed to better determine whether a road charge funding concept is viable for California. No actual money will be exchanged during the pilot.

“We’re proud that thousands of Californians have signed up to volunteer for the California Road Charge Pilot Program,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “The opportunity to provide valuable input and evaluate the viability of a mileage based user fee system demonstrates the commitment that Californians have to our roads and keeping them well maintained.”

Volunteers that have been accepted to participate in the pilot are made up of drivers from all parts of California with various socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, some out-of-state volunteers will be featured in the pilot in order to help California determine how a road charge tax could impact visiting drivers.

Pilot participants will not actually pay a road charge while participating in the pilot. Instead, they will make simulated payments based on how far they drive. The pilot offers several options for participants to report their mileage, including six different low-to-high tech methods:

road charge

The pilot is set to run for nine months from July 2016 to March 2017. When concluded, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) will report the pilot’s findings to the Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee, the California Transportation Commission and the appropriate policy and fiscal committees of the Legislature. The Legislature will make the ultimate decision on whether to enact a full-scale permanent road charge program in California.

Even if the Legislature decides not to implement a road charge, California will still be in need of a more sustainable roadway funding mechanism than the current fuel excise tax. The fuel excise tax only funds approximately $2.3 billion of work to maintain the 50,000 lane-miles and nearly 13,000 state-owned bridges on the state highway system. This leaves nearly $5.7 billion in unfunded repairs each year.

Road charging is based on the same principle that the current gas tax was created upon: the amount drivers pay to maintain roads should correspond to the number of miles they drive. However, the gas tax no longer serves this purpose now that cars drive farther and need less fuel.

California is not the only state researching alternative road funding options. Several other states—including Washington, Colorado, Utah and others—are also exploring the road charge concept of pay-by-the-mile. Last July, the state of Oregon launched phase one of its OReGO program, where volunteers are paying a road charge of 1.5 cents per mile driven instead of the fuel tax.

There is still time to volunteer for the California Road Charge Pilot! To sign-up and learn more about California’s program, please visit

# # #

The California Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee was created by the California Transportation Commission on January 21, 2015, to study road charging pursuant to Senate Bill 1077 (2014).  The volunteer committee represents a variety of interests and stakeholders from across the state including highway user groups, data security experts, privacy rights organizations, social equity groups, regional transportation agencies, business interests, national research and policymaking bodies, members of the Legislature and representatives from the telecommunications industry.

Improving Caltrans requires new revenue and reasonable reforms

The following is an editorial submitted to the Orange County Register by California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly on June 30. To view the original post, click here.

Recently in these pages, some have had a lot to say about the state Department of Transportation.

But there is a lot that hasn’t been said that I believe your readers should know about the efforts that have been taken to improve Caltrans during this administration.

In May 2013, I commissioned the first comprehensive review of Caltrans in the last 20 years. The State Smart Transportation Initiative undertook a thorough assessment of the department and provided recommendations for improving performance – recommendations the department is implementing today.

In 2014, Caltrans and California State Transportation Agency executive teams crafted a new mission, vision and goals to modernize the department’s direction and emphasize performance and efficiency.

Last year, Caltrans adopted a five-year Strategic Management Plan that uses real performance measures for the department and provides for transparent reporting on how it is doing.

Already the department is being praised for the changes it is making. Caltrans is working more collaboratively with local governments on road design issues and with industry leaders on material specifications. The California Asphalt Pavement Association, in its 2016 industry newsletter, wrote that Caltrans is in the process of “making a genuine effort to get better.”

In August 2015, this administration put forth a comprehensive transportation funding package calling for both new revenue and reasonable reforms. Our proposal includes:

  • Streamlined environmental processes to deliver projects more efficiently;
  • Greater flexibility in staffing at Caltrans to meet new workload;
  • A more innovative procurement authority so Caltrans can execute projects more quickly and deliver results sooner;
  • Specific performance measures to hold the department accountable to the Legislature and the public;

Recent criticisms also took issue with Caltrans’ staffing numbers.

Here is what you weren’t told: Staffing is down at Caltrans. The staffing program to deliver projects, known as Capital Outlay Support, is at a 20-year low. Over the last eight years, the COS program has dropped approximately 3,400 positions. The program has been reduced each year of the Gov. Jerry Brown administration.

The Legislature has raised questions about Caltrans’ staffing methodology. Having worked in the Legislature for 17 years, I take those questions seriously.

That’s why, in January, I asked the California Transportation Commission to conduct a thorough review of staffing – with both parties from the Legislature, the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office included in that review.

Recently, the CTC acknowledged the progress Caltrans has made since 2013.

The CTC will continue this work to ensure department staffing is sufficient to deliver projects that benefit all Californians and that Caltrans is held accountable to the Legislature. Staff size should not be determined by ideology, but by analysis and actual workload.

Some would also have you believe that a few bad actors define the department. That is wrong.

Caltrans routinely takes disciplinary action, including termination, against employees who act in a manner inconsistent with the department’s values and expectations. With respect to the Bay Bridge, I remind you, it was this administration that replaced the two top managers on that 20-year-old project.

There is still work to do at Caltrans. That is why the Brown administration is seeking new funding in combination with meaningful reforms. To build the transportation system we need, however, the state must increase its investment, just as 22 other states have done since 2012.

Both Govs. Ronald Reagan and George Deukmejian understood the necessity of increasing reasonable user fees for transportation infrastructure. That’s why they took action to approve them.

We need that kind of leadership today if the state is going to have the world-class transportation system it needs and it deserves.


Secretary Kelly delivers Keynote at 7th Annual Mineta National Transportation Finance Summit

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly talks all things transportation at the 2016 Norman Mineta Policy Summit on Transportation Finance.

SACRAMENTO – California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly spoke this month at a transportation summit held at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, joining a long list of diverse and respected individuals from Martin Luther King, to Ronald Reagan and Bill Gates who have presented at the historic public affairs forum.

Delivering the keynote speech at the 2016 Norman Mineta Policy Summit on Transportation Finance at the club on June 24, Secretary Kelly covered a range of topics in the transportation world, from the emergence of new technology and autonomous vehicles, to high-speed rail and the need for increased investments in transportation funding.

Early on, he reminded the audience not to underestimate the impact of climate change on transportation policy in the state.

“In California, it is estimated that roughly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, and the vast majority of those from automobile and truck emissions,” Secretary Kelly said.

“Our job today is quite clear: promote transportation policies that address not just the state’s mobility and safety objectives, but also our sustainability and environmental objectives.”

In case you missed Secretary Kelly’s keynote address and would like to hear the speech in its entirety, please use the following links:

Keynote Speech Podcast:

Panel Discussion (following the Keynote) Podcast:



Transportation Agency Secretary Issues Statement on Transportation Project Cuts

SACRAMENTO— This morning the California Transportation Commission issued staff recommendations for cuts to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).  The cuts are due to a crisis-level drop in gas tax revenue, further adding to the funding shortfall to fix our transportation infrastructure.  California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) Secretary Brian P. Kelly issued the following statement on the recommended cuts:

“The recommendation before the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to delete or delay some $1.5 billion in transportation projects underscores the reality that our current transportation funding system is broken.  Money to invest in transportation projects is declining as needs are growing.  The status quo does not serve California’s economy or quality of life well.  These cuts cost us well-paying jobs and important mobility improvements.  The Governor’s transportation budget proposal to re-invest in our roads, bridges and public transit would make the CTC’s proposed cuts unnecessary.  It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and pass a comprehensive transportation funding plan.”

The California State Transportation Agency is responsible for transportation-related departments within the state: Board of Pilot Commissioners, California Highway Patrol, California Transportation Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, High-Speed Rail Authority, New Motor Vehicle Board and Office of Traffic Safety. For more information, visit


# # #