The first public meeting over the controversial redirection of state highway improvement funding will take place in Fresno on November 15th.
The meeting is a direct result of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-19-19, which shifted gas tax funding from highway repairs to railways and other projects in California. The widening of Highway 99 in Tulare and Madera Counties, as well as a widening on Highway 46 in San Luis Obispo, were the first highway projects cut by the executive order.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) wrote to the California Transportation Commission last month expressing his concern that a local meeting wasn’t going to be held on the issue. The Commission agreed with Assemblyman Patterson and announced a public comment meeting in Fresno, in addition to another meeting in Modesto.
Assemblyman Patterson, whose district includes Highway 99, has been one of the largest critics of N-19-19. He has made impassioned speeches and written letters condemning the redirection of gas tax funds.
“This is theft of our gas taxes by Executive Order. Governor Newsom is intentionally starving us out of our roads. Voters approved SB 1 with the promise that our crumbling highways would get the attention they deserve. Instead of building capacity, our gas tax funds are being siphoned off to fund Newsom’s favored pet-projects,” stated Assemblyman Patterson as reported by the Globe last month. “Governor Newsom’s promise not to forget about the Central Valley is full of hot air, just like his climate plan.”
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) has been another vocal critic. Like Highway 99 and Patterson’s District, Highway 46 runs through Cunningham’s district. And like Highway 99, Highway 46 is in dire need of widening and repairs.
“The widening of Highway 46 provides not only carries an economic benefit, but a safety one as well,” stated Assemblyman Cunningham recently in a letter. “The Highway 41/46 corridor in San Luis Obispo County, otherwise known as Blood Alley, has seen a fatality rate three times higher than the state average.”
With incensed local citizens and equally angry Assembly members, the first public meetings on the gas tax redirection is expected to be heated from all sides.
The Fresno meeting will be held at the Fresno Council of Governments Building on November 15th at 11 A.M. All members of the public with comment are welcome.