12-cent California gas tax increase takes effect

A 12-cent-per-gallon state gas tax increase went into effect Wednesday. (Mike Koozmin/2012 S.F. Examiner)

The 12-cent-per-gallon state gas tax increase that went into effect Wednesday will raise money for many Bay Area road repair and BART projects, transportation officials said .

The new gas tax is part of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, also known as Senate Bill 1, which is intended to pay for fixing California’s roads and making other transportation improvements.

Some of the major funding allocations for roads in the Bay Area include a $79.1 million project to construct an auxiliary lane on westbound state Highway 237 between Zanker Lane and North First Street overcrossing in San Jose, according to Caltrans.

Also, $76.8 million in funding will go to a pavement preservation project on Interstate Highway 80 stretching from state Highway 4 to the Carquinez Bridge, Caltrans officials said.

About $12.8 million will go to pavement preservation on state Highway 29 from York Creek Bridge in St. Helena to state Highway 128 in Calistoga, according to Caltrans.

“SB 1 allowed us to grant funding to these projects earlier and move them up on the schedule,” Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said.

Thanks to the funding, BART will be able to hire more police officers and station cleaners and do maintenance on its old train cars while waiting for new ones on order, according to spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

“We were facing possible service reductions, things like having to not have direct service as frequently as we have now” before SB 1 went through, Trost said.

“We are expecting $20 million in SB 1 funds for next year’s budget,” she said.

“It’s a reliable, steady stream of funds,” and hence makes it possible to hire personnel such as police officers and station cleaners, Trost said. “People are always going to be buying gas.”

She said the bill also provides some grant opportunities, and BART will apply for a grant that would help the agency buy new train cars in addition to the 775 currently on order.

According to Caltrans, Senate Bill 1 will generate more than $54 billion over the next decade for transportation.

The billions raised by the law will primarily come from the 12-cent-per-gallon hike in the gas tax, a 20-cent hike in the per-gallon tax on diesel fuel and a new annual vehicle fee called the “Transportation Improvement Fee.”

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