The Madera County Board of Supervisors has gone on record as unanimously opposing a scheme to divert gasoline tax money from Central Valley highways to rail projects.
The supervisors voted Oct. 15 to oppose Caltrans Draft 2020 Interregional Transportation Improvement Plan. The Draft 2020 interregional transportation improvement plan would reallocate gas tax funds from highways to rail transportation.
An Executive Order signed by Newsom on Oct. 1, directs Caltrans, “to reduce congestion through innovative strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation.”
The plan proposes the deletion of three Central Valley transportation projects which will move $61.3 million to the column of “uncommitted 2020 ITIP programming capacity.” Those uncommitted funds, according to the draft plan, will be held in reserve “for priority rail projects and other priorities aligned with Executive Order N-19-19.”
The three projects proposed for deletion within the Draft 2020 ITIP include work on the Antelope Grade on Highway 46, Highway 99 widening through Tulare County, and Highway 99 widening from four to six lanes from Avenue 7 to Avenue 12 in Madera County.
Although the current Highway 99 widening project from Avenue 12 to Avenue 17 is on target for completion in 2020, Madera County staff suggested that the deletion of the scheduled widening from Avenue 7 to Avenue 12 will sustain current bottlenecks.
Staff also explained, “Not only will this project substantially reduce the number and rate of transportation accidents, serious injuries, and fatalities, but it will also reduce the cost of doing business by making it more efficient and cost-effective to move goods and people throughout the Central Valley, not to mention the yielding of a negative effect towards tailpipe emissions.”