Pay Cut

By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 06/05/16 – 4:00 PM PDT |

A funding cut of $754 million statewide means the loss of half of all annual state transportation funds for projects — some underway — in the San Bernardino region, officials said.

The missing funds are from the State Transportation Improvement Program. A state commission adopted a five-year plan last month, cutting the $754 million and delaying another $755 million in spending for highway, rail, transit, bicycle and pedestrian project spending.

“This is going to make things more congested, so everybody’s going to be losing something,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, or SCAG. “This is like not having 10,000 jobs in San Bernardino County.”

Impacted projects include the 215 Barton Interchange reconstruction and the Mt. Vernon/Washington Street interchange improvement project, which are being overseen by the San Bernardino Associated Governments regional transportation authority.

“Obviously, a decrease in funding of any level will have an impact on our program,” said Tim Watkins, SanBAG spokesman, in a statement. “The extent of that impact is still being evaluated. We are currently working on an update to our 10-year delivery plan which will reflect the impact of this funding setback.”

Watkins said the agency is working toward a release of that plan update in the next fiscal year.

Until then, Watkins said SanBAG will continue to fund the Barton project using other fund sources under its authority. The board also took action to stop work on the Washington/Mt. Vernon interchange.

All so-called STIP funds have been removed from the 395 Expressway Project which would widen Route 395. But Caltrans will continue to seek funding to complete widening of existing Route 395, according to Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga.

“(San Bernardino) County got hit fairly hard,” said Laurel Janssen, deputy director of the California Transportation Commission.

Officials blame the cuts on the steady loss of gas tax revenue over the past two years because of the drop in gasoline prices. The cut represents the largest funding reduction since the adoption of the state transportation funding structure 20 years ago.

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