This article was contributed by Marty Richman.
The draft 2040 San Benito Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) forecasts out 22-years. Obviously, the further out you go the more uncertainty exists, but since many of these wish-list projects are staggeringly expensive even in today’s dollars, revenues are always iffy and recessions are cyclical, you can safely bet that much of it falls under the heading of wishful thinking, yet plans are necessary.
Even the rose-colored glasses reveal a $550 million (30%) revenue shortfall in the $1.8 billion total of estimated transportation project costs.
The revenue assumptions for local funding include 22-year developer’s fees of $263 million and an assumed 2020 Local Transportation Sales Tax forecasted to bring in $156 million over two decades. Those account, respectively, for 54% and 32% of the $487 million in local revenues.
State revenues, including SB1 returned taxes, are forecasted at $425 million. Remember, the state is siphoning off about 66-cents of every SB1 transportation tax dollar, some of which goes to patch the budget hole left by the Bullet Train, now $77.1 billion. The argument that no SB1 money “goes” to the Bullet Train is technically correct, but also meaningless. The SB1 money “replaces” that gigantic expense allowing it to continue leaking billions a year.
Other projected revenue focuses on Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) betting that they will eventually fund $215 million worth of projects advantageous to SBC, such as the 101 - 25 overpass and rerouting of Highway 152.
Federal transportation revenues are forecasted at $138 million and “regional” revenues $2.5 million, a pittance.
To sum up; the largest revenue sector is local funding and the largest part of that, by far, are developer fees which are assumed to be more than 20% of the total 22-year identified revenue stream of $1.267 billion.
The RTP is a very good list of needs, but how realistic is it for forecasting revenue, costs and schedules? Not very. The long-run history is that revenues regularly fail to meet forecasts and projects run over costs and especially years over schedule; the latter two are related.
As for the 22-year $550 million shortfall already forecasted, that’s close to the monthly cost overrun of the Bullet Train over the last 2 years which should give you some idea of the state’s priorities for our local needs. They have bigger political fish to fry and we’re not even invited to dinner.
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