State budget cuts are looming like a storm on the horizon for most government agencies, but they’re already raining down on the region’s roads.
In an effort to deal with the state’s cash shortage, the governor and state legislature last month froze gas-tax funds, which are a prime source of funding of road projects for cities and counties. The state has promised to give that money back in September — at the end of the traditional roadwork season.
The freeze on gas-tax funds has sent San Mateo County and some cities in the county scrambling to adjust the list of roads they thought they’d be able to repair this summer, or to find another funding source. This year’s rough winter has only made matters worse, since roads are in worse shape than usual, city officials said.
The county was anticipating $7 million in gas-tax funding over the next five months.
Instead, the county will tap into proposition 1B funds, a source intended to supplement — not fully fund — road fixes, said Brian Lee, deputy director of San Mateo County’s Public Works Agency.
The county has been forced to postpone more than $2 million in road repairs, he said. That means the county won’t be able to resurface the roads in the coastal town of Montara, or some bumpy portions of Ralston Avenue in Belmont near Route 92, among other projects.
The county’s not the only one hurting for road funding: Several cities are also scrambling to figure out how to fund road repairs.
Though some cities, such as San Mateo and Belmont, are moving forward with projects by funding them with their own cash reserves, other cities, such as San Carlos and South San Francisco, are not in a position to do so.
“This is a year where we’d want to accelerate road work because of all the rain,” said Brian Moura, assistant city manager of San Carlos. “But if they give us the money in the fall or winter, that doesn’t really help, because then you don’t have the weather to do the roadwork.”
South San Francisco is going to have to decide which road projects are its priority, because it will only have $1 million, rather than the expected $1.7 million, in state funding, City Engineer Ray Razavi said.
“We’re going to be doing the worst bunch of roads, but not the regular road maintenance that we usually do,” he said. “That means the roads are going to deteriorate faster — they’re going to be in worse shape.”