American Shipper

State adds $1 billion in ?new? funds to goods movement bond fund

State adds $1 billion in ônewö funds to goods movement bond fund

With regional demand for state transportation funds far outstripping funds available from a $20 billion state bond fund, state officials announced Tuesday that they plan to add $1 billion to funding for goods-movement improvements throughout California.

   The move is also seen as a pre-emptive effort by state officials to head off a potentially divisive fight between regional areas over the $2 billion available for goods-movement projects from the Proposition 1b bond funds approved by voters last November.

   A coalition of five Southern California counties'Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino'are asking for $1.7 billion of the $2 billion available, citing statistics showing that the five county region handles 85 percent of the state's trade. Northern California agencies have argued that their area'heavily impacted by the growth of trade through Bay Area ports'needs a greater percentage of the available funds. Central Valley and San Diego officials have also criticized the Southern California proposed split of funds as inequitable.

   Tuesday's move by the California Transportation Commission, the state agency doling out the Trade Corridors Improvement Fund portion of the Prop 1b funds, would raise the available funds to $3 billion and likely provide enough funds for most of the requests.

   Southern California's share of the newly expanded pot is likely to be $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion. The Bay Area and Central Valley would likely see funding allocations between $640 million and $840 million and San Diego would receive somewhere between $250 million to $400 million. The remaining $60 million to $80 million would be spread through other areas of the state. An additional $40 million would be reserved for administration costs associated with doling out the funds.

   While the CTC is calling the funds an addition, at least half of the $1 billion in extra monies do not really exist. While half of the new funds come from general treasury funds already earmarked for transportation projects, the remaining $500 million are 'overprogrammed' funds'those from revenue streams that do not yet exist, but are expected to materialize in such forms as container fees, user fees, tolls and federal funds.