Tag: funding

Last chance to comment on plan to remove the Fresno Fulton Mall – act now!

On December 3rd, at 1:30pm, the Fresno City Council will be presented with the last step of the process to eliminate the Fulton Mall and turn it into a street. They will vote on whether to award the contract or not to begin the destruction of the pedestrian mall.

At this point, the project is 11 months late and, more importantly, $3 million dollars over budget.

At $23.05 million, American Paving had the lowest of three bids for
the project. The other two bidders were Lewis C. Nelson at $23.3 million
and Granite Construction at $27.68 million. Right off , the city
is eliminating a bid alternative that will save around $600,000. That
takes American Paving’s bid to $22.4 million. The cash on hand for the
project – around $20 million – means City Hall now needs to either cut
around $2.4 million from the proposal or find some additional revenue.
It looks like the city isn’t counting on the latter. Click to read more!

What developer Darius Assemi forgot in his editorial on how to fund road construction

Darius Assemi is the president of Granville Homes, one of the most prolific residential developers in the Fresno area (one which oddly doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry). According to his LinkedIn profile, he has been president for 6 years, and served as vice president for 25 years before that. The guy knows the Fresno market well, especially when it comes to selling single-family homes.

But how much does he know about funding our infrastructure? Let’s take a look at his Fresno Bee editorial on the subject. Here are his main points:

  • Deteriorating roads cost Californians $44 billion a year in repairs, accidents, time and fuel
  • Deferred repair costs exceeding $57 billion
  • Caused by diminishing purchasing power of gas tax
    • Not tied to inflation
    • More fuel efficient cars mean less gas taxes
    Funding solutions include:
    • Raising gas tax
    • Indexing gas tax to inflation
    • Increasing fees 
    • New usage based fee
    Cost solutions include:
    • Caltrans performance should be equal to or exceed private performance  
      • More efficient staffing 
      • Increased transparency 
      Only use gas tax for construction and maintenance of highways  CEQA exemption for roads using existing right-of-way Design-build projects  Multi-modal future

      Generally, it’s a pretty standard set of recommendations. The only big controversy is the “highway only” line for funding, although it appears he’s more concerned with the previous raid of the transportation fund to plug other budgets rather than eliminating all subsidies of mass transit. It is unclear if he also wants to eliminate that. As a suburban developer, I wouldn’t be surprised if transit didn’t even cross his mind when he penned his piece. Click to read more!

Federal budget includes more money for Fresno BRT

Part of the recent release of the 2014 federal budget included a list of what the FTA will fund as part of their “small starts” program. That budget includes another piece of the Fresno BRT (bus rapid transit) funding puzzle – another $10 million. The Fresno Bee last reported on the initial $17.8m grant over two years ago. No money was handed out in the 2013 budget.

BRT in Fresno is supposed to improve bus service along Blackstone and Kings Canyon, via downtown (and eventually the high speed rail station). Those are currently the corridors with highest bus ridership.

Unfortunately, Fresno isn’t getting real BRT. Very few bus lanes, street-level boarding and really nothing more than you’d find on what other cities might label an express route or special route. Regardless of the lack of features, the project is expensive – almost $50 million. Some of those costs are for new articulated buses. A little more goes towards improving bus stops and shelters. But the meat of the funding will go towards….well, this is Fresno, so you know the answer. Road widening. Even though Blackstone and Kings Canyon already are very wide (6 lanes + parking + turn lanes), that apparently isn’t enough to paint a bus lane. The laughably small 20% of the project that will involve exclusive lanes revolves mostly along wider roads. Oh, and new traffic signals. Click to read more!

In Fresno, is lack of spending on transit keeping unemployment high?

Over at The Transport Politic, Yonah Freemark recently wrote an excellent article looking at per capital funding across the nation for transit. A large focus of his report was the inequality present in funding, and how low income areas, the ones which most need better transit, are the ones with the lowest amount of support for their systems. He draws the conclusion that the shift to local funding, instead of federal, can lead to big problems.

Naturally, Fresno is a prime example of an area that desperately needs more transit, but doesn’t allocate sufficient funding for it. Later on in this post, I will use his charts to show that Fresno predictably ranks near last in the 65 cities he looked at. Click to read more!