NewsPrice of Paradise


A closer look at the gas tax and what Caltrans is doing with your money

Posted at 12:29 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 22:33:41-05

Nearly everyone, everywhere in some way pays for transportation.

The State of California is spending $5.5 billion each year on transportation projects and it's your money, generated by the controversial gas tax that went into effect more than two years ago.

Senate Bill 1, better known as the gas tax, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in April of 2017.

Some people were outraged, arguing Californians were already over-taxed, but they didn't have enough support to overturn it during the 2018 midterm elections.

Second to Hawaii, drivers pay more at the pump in California than they do in any other state, and it adds up.

In July of 2019, the state gas tax increased 5.6 cents a gallon. This coming july, it will be adjusted for inflation.

A Caltrans District 5 spokesman said road maintenance took a back seat for a number of years due to lack of funding, but the cash infusion has kick-started dozens of road projects.

“There's a stretch from Lompoc to Gaviota - we just completed a complete repaving, restriping, rumble strips down the center median as well as the shoulder area, so that is going to make them much safer, better ride for travelers,” said Colin Jones, Caltrans District 5 spokesman.

Caltrans said crews recently wrapped up another project - re-striping all of 101 through San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County.

It's done to help the yellow and white lines pop.

Crews are currently working to:

  • Repave 7 miles of Highway 166 through Cuyama
  • Repair the area near 101 and Pismo Creek Bridge
  • Repair Big Creek Bridge in Big Sur

While many are happy to see improvements, at least one driver hopes to see more lanes.

“I think it would help if there were three lanes on the highways,” said Eduardo Ramos, Paso Robles resident. “I think they should focus more on that and extend it a little more so cars can get by faster."

“It's not just for highways, certainly that is an important part of the program, but we're also funding rail projects, bike and pedestrian as well as other transitm so it's a transportation program and we are looking at all users,” Jones said.

By the the end of 2027, SB 1 aims to have at least 98% of state highway pavement in good or fair condition and at least 500 bridges fixed.

As crews continue to work on the roads you drive on, Caltrans is asking all drivers to slow down and move over when you see the cones.

For a look at other planned projects, click here.

We all know the cost of living is high on the Central Coast. Here at KSBY, we're committed to addressing these challenges, and we want to hear from you. What are the issues that concern you when it comes to the Price of Paradise here on the Central Coast? Email us at or message us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.