The controversial SB-1 gas tax is being used to improve the roads you drive every day.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law April of 2018 and voters knocked down an initiative to repeal the tax during the 2018 midterm elections.
Now, the gas tax is bringing in about $5.5 billion every year for California road repairs according to Cal Trans.
A Caltrans spokesperson said drivers can already see local improvements with 50 road projects either completed or planned.
Caltrans recently upgraded nine miles of Highway 41 from El Camino to Los Altos Road in Atascadero.
Longtime resident Angela Ramsey said it’s a major upgrade.
“Lines were discolored, they were faded, they were hard to see. Many times cars were cutting each other off. Lanes weren’t very wide,” said Ramsey, an Atascadero resident. “Now with the repave and the new lines, things are wider brighter. Hopefully avoiding some traffic accidents.”
Another woman works near this stretch of highway and said even though the construction delayed her clients, she is happy to see the change.
“I hate uneven roads, they are the worst,” said Abby Rolfe, a receptionist at
A Caltrans District 5 spokesperson said many projects had to be put off due to lack of funding, but these new tax dollars will be used to make the roads safer.
:”None of us like to pay taxes or more taxes but the thing about SB-1 is the tax goes directly into the transportation system,” said Colin Jones, Caltrans District 5 spokesperson.
He said Caltrans strives to be transparent and accountable about the use of taxpayer money.
“A bigger focus is going to be 101 because the volume of traffic is much higher than some of either routes, but if we see a highway that is really deteriorated, then we will move that up the priority list and get the funding,” said Jones.
Jones also said road maintenance is a 24/7 business especially as traffic volumes increase.
Currently, the biggest project stretches along Highway 101 from Atascadero to Paso Robles.
“We’ve already completed the striping which is widening the stripes you see,” said Jones. “We are getting rid of some of the old reflectors and making the new stripes wider and more visible for motorists especially during the overnight driving hours.”
Some opponents of the tax said they would like to see more improvements to rural roads.
Caltrans does most of the maintenance work during the night but crews are asking people to drive carefully through construction zones and be work zone alert.
You can track the progress of each project on the Caltrans website.