By County Supervisor Sue Frost
I get it because I am upset myself. I see the deterioration of the streets that have needed repaving for years, and just last month I had to pay $500 for new tires that my mechanic directly attributed to poor road conditions (tires I bought only 2 years ago). Because of this frustration, the question I get more than any other lately from residents in Rio Linda/Elverta is, “why can’t you prioritize road repairs in our community?” I wish it were that simple, because if it were I would have done it many months ago. So I wanted to take this opportunity in my monthly article to explain to you why it’s not so simple, and what we can do to change things.
What many people do not understand is that the vast majority of funds that are spent on local roads are from the state and federal government. Not only that, but many of these funds are competitive dollars, meaning we are only going to win those funds for major projects that have nothing to do with resurfacing, like the road widening happening right now on Hazel Avenue. So even if I wanted to prioritize local road resurfacings, the money Sacramento County could divert towards roads would be insignificantly small compared to what the state and federal government have the ability to do. And this completely ignores the fact that Sacramento County has virtually zero reserves in our budget (if we had to rely solely on reserves, we would only have enough money to last us eight days).
When voters approved CAHSR, it was supposed to cost $40 billion. As of today, the current estimate has risen to $79 billion, and experts are now expecting that by the time the project is completed it will cost nearly $100 billion. The first segment of CAHSR is currently being constructed – it is 118 miles through the Central Valley from Merced to Shafter and is supposed to be the easiest part of the construction. Just how easy is the “easy” part? It was expected to be done this year and cost $6.4 billion, but is now expected to be finished in 2024 and will cost $10 billion.
Even if we let CAHSR continue to build the central valley line and we abandoned CAHSR after that, we would save enough money to pay for every cent of deferred maintenance for all roads, highways, and bridges in California. Not only that, but we would also save enough to pay for all deferred maintenance in every department across the State, including things like water systems, courts, parks, colleges, fairs, etc. The California Legislature and the Governor have the capacity to fix our roads, they just need to change their priorities and focus on what California needs the most.
Finally, I want to invite everyone to my next Rio Linda/Elverta community meeting on March 7th at 7:00pm at the Visitor’s Depot Center (6730 Front Street). This is an opportunity for you to get an update from me and to ask me any questions you may have. I always stay after the meeting to make sure that every person has an opportunity to ask their questions. Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491 or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms and Fair Oaks.