A few years ago, I made a post about how Bakersfield was planning to bulldoze a neighborhood to build yet another freeway. I am rarely in Bakersfield, so in those 5 years, I didn’t really follow the project, aside from knowing it was chugging along. (I actually did stop in Bakersfield in August for dinner, coming back from Six Flags, but didn’t explore). Usually, big infrastructure projects take years to happen. At the time, Bakersfield was looking at alternative routes. If it takes Fresno 10 years to build improved bus stops, Boston 30 years to extend a trolley route, and NYC 60 years to add a subway station, surely things in Bakersfield would move slowly. Demolishing an existing neighborhood is no small feat.
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
- Raising gas tax
- Indexing gas tax to inflation
- Increasing fees
- New usage based fee
- Caltrans performance should be equal to or exceed private performance
- More efficient staffing
- Increased transparency
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.
Over the past decade, California has passed various laws and initiatives aimed at decreasing driving, carbon emissions, and sprawl.
No one has told the Central Valley, which is celebrating the groundbreaking of yet another highway expansion project.
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/08/16/3445266/work-kicks-off-on-next-eastward.html#storylink=cpy
“This will connect us all in a more meaningful way,” said Henry
Perea, chairman of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and one of
many speakers at a ground-breaking ceremony Friday. “When I see this
freeway, I see a gateway to economic prosperity.”
This week the Fresno Bee announced that yet another round of highway expansions would kick off in the rural parts of the county. The expansion plan will take a two-lane road, and make it four lanes, with a median wide enough to support two more.
If you thought the era of plowing through an established neighborhood to build a brand new highway was over, then Bakersfield and Caltrans would like to have a word with you.
I’ve often said that Fresno is a lot like Los Angeles of 20 years ago; mimicking many of the bad choices, eventually receiving many of the trends (yay froyo, when will cupcakes hit!?) and having a downtown that will hopefully follow the path of redevelopment that LA eventually took.
Bakersfield, smaller and less developed than Fresno, is a few years further behind. Fresno made the decision to bulldoze neighborhoods over a decade ago, when highway 180 was erected through the area between downtown and the tower district. Now it’s Bakersfield’s turn to do what their cool peers Fresno and LA did, and put highways before people.