No funding to fix roads with falling gas prices and new driving trends

March 7, 2016

The dwindling price of oil affects nearly all of us in Kern County.
Plus, as gas prices plunge so do funds to maintain and fix local roads.
There’s also one more thing adding to the difficulty of road maintenance, teenagers.
Believe it or not, a growing number of teenagers no longer get excited to go to the DMV on their 16th birthday to get their driver license.
That means fewer drivers on the road and less people fueling up.
‘I don’t want to drive,” said Rome Deason, a Bakersfield resident.
16-year-old Rome Deason is a sophomore at Centennial High School who said he doesn’t plan on getting his driver license anytime soon.
“I thought about it for a time because driving seems like fun, but it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it,” Deason said.
And he’s not the only one.
According to a study by AAA fewer teens are getting their driver license.
39% of teens said they can get around without driving.
36% said driving is too expensive.
For Deason, it’s also a safety concern.
“You can die very easily in fact it’s one of the leading causes of death especially for teens,” Deason said.
Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez said with younger generations opting not to drive along with other changes, transportation funding needs a closer look.
“Who’s driving, how many folks are going to be driving and then of course how many vehicles are going to be replaced by vehicles that don’t require fossil fuel and what does that mean for the tax on gasoline that provides the funding for our roads. I mean it’s really problematic and we have to address it now,” said Leticia Perez, Kern County Supervisor, 5th District.
Perez said for every dollar spent on gas, 12 cents goes into a transportation fund that is split between the state and counties.
Given current driving trends and gas prices…
“Not only is the state loosing out on 3/4 of a billion dollars but counties are also losing out on that same revenue,” Perez said.
Which basically means there’s not enough money to fix and maintain roads in Kern County.
“We are billions behind literally in the maintenance here at the local level and the statewide level, so this is really a crisis frankly. Our roads our streets are in horrific condition,” Perez said.
Perez said the legislature and governor need to find a solution to get money into the transportation fund now.
She said that solution remains to be seen but funds cannot continue to dwindle along with the condition of Kern County’s roads.

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