Spawned by a request from Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) to examine spending on routine road maintenance by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the state auditor published a report last week highly critical of the department’s methods for funding and measuring performance of routine maintenance of the state’s roads and highways.
“I am thoroughly disappointed in Caltrans’ historic and continuous failure to maintain our state’s roads and highways, and even more disturbed to learn that the department has misrepresented information before the Legislature,” stated Gipson. “And unfortunately a problem I initially thought was restricted to low-income communities of color in my district is a scourge that plagues urban communities throughout our entire state from Oakland to all of Los Angeles.”
The report highlighted Caltrans’ inability to accurately measure maintenance performance, the department’s lack of a strategic plan to allocate funds, as well as Caltrans’ poor response times to road maintenance service requests. The report further highlighted that in 2009 Caltrans spent over $250,000 to develop a budget model that would more efficiently allocate road maintenance funds, only to scrap the proposal before ever being implemented.
“Caltrans’ response to the report was woefully inadequate, highlighting the fact that the state auditor found no correlation between the department’s funding allocation and socioeconomic factors such as race and income levels,” stated Gipson, “which implies Caltrans is comfortable misrepresenting facts before the Legislature, being incompetent in its strategic planning, and just downright neglectful of its overall responsibilities.”
Gipson went on to state, “And while I am sure management will simply lay the blame at someone else’s doorstep, as was the case in Flint, Michigan, or in any case where people of color are shortchanged by mismanagement of their government, clearly the incompetence of management at Caltrans has been ongoing since 2009 when the department knew there was a better way to do things.”
“Given the Legislature is already in an extraordinary session called by Governor Brown to develop a long-term budget solution for funding transportation,” stated Gipson, “I hope the Governor understands that this issue has to be at the top of the priority list to resolve before I will lend my support to any budget proposal that comes before the Legislature in the coming months and that the immediate dismissal of those complicit in the mismanagement of these funds take place before any more funds are appropriated to Caltrans.”
For more information, or to read the full audit please visit Assemblymember Gipson’s website at – http://asmdc.org/members/a64/.