What Californians need to know about the state’s $52-billion transportation plan

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will fund much-needed repairs to the Golden State’s roads, highways and bridges.


Why a new transportation tax plan?

California has not increased the base excise tax on gasoline in 23 years. The result is a backlog of some $130 billion in road, highway and bridge repairs throughout California and not enough money to fix the structures, according to Gov. Jerry Brown.

California's ailing roads

There are differing views on the state of California's transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state an overall "D+" in a 2017 assessment that graded roads, bridges, energy and school facilities. No California government agency publishes a similar comprehensive study that looks at overall infrastructure, according to Caltrans official Mark Dinger.

Infrastructure snapshot according to the ASCE report


of California's 195,834 public roads are in poor condition


of 25,431 reported bridges are in need of repair


of state-regulated dams do not have an Emergency Action Plan

Infrastructure snapshot according to most recent government sources


of highways are in poor condition, according to a 2015 Caltrans pavement survey


of state and local bridges in 2015 were in need of repair, according to Caltrans


of state-regulated dams designed with a high-hazard potential do not have an Emergency Action Plan, according to a 2016 FEMA report

How much will the plan cost?

To raise $5.2 billion annually during the first 10 years, the plan will increase fuel taxes and add a new vehicle fee that drivers will have to pay.

Other Vehicle fee: $16.34 Fuel taxes: $35.14 million 10-year transportation revenue estimate: $52 billion
Other Vehicle fee:$16.34 Fuel taxes:$35.14 million 10-year revenue estimate: $52 billion

Taxes on gasoline

Current amount Increase amount $0.30 $0.17 Base excise tax Inflation based excise tax

Taxes on diesel

10.5% $0.36 Base excise tax Sales tax Current amount Increase amount

Demystifying the tax terms Jane filled 10 gallons of gasoline in her Honda Civic, which totaled $30. An excise fuel tax would charge her a fixed amount of cents for each gallon purchased. In contrast, a sales fuel tax would charge a percent of the purchase price instead of gallons used.

The legislation will also create a new, value-based Transportation Improvement Fee. Based on the driver’s vehicle value, the new fee will be charged annually in addition to the current vehicle registration fee.

New annual vehicle fees owners will have to pay based on market value
$25 $50 $100 $150 $175 Vehicle value <$5,000 $5,000-$24,999 $25,000-$34,999 $35,000-$59,999 $60,000+ Most California driverswill pay this price Annual fee
New annual vehicle fees vehicle owners will have to pay based on market value
$25 $50 $100 $150 $175 Vehiclevalue <$5K $5K-$24,999 $25K-$34,999 $35K-$59,999 $60K+ Most California drivers will pay one of these prices Annualfee

Who will and won't the plan affect?

The package will affect owners of the 33 million registered vehicles in California. The gas tax will affect most regular car owners while the diesel fuel tax increases will boost the cost for mostly commercial truck drivers and operators of ships and trains.

People who don't own cars

Cost: $0/year

Californians who aren't car owners and those who use public transit exclusively will not be affected and won't pay for the plan.

Drivers with fuel-powered cars

Cost: varies by driver

For example, a driver who owns a car worth $15,000 that gets 30 miles per gallon and who drives 12,000 miles a year would be expected to pay $239.20 in 2020. Total annual cost will vary in subsequent years as a portion of the excise tax will rise with inflation over time.

Electric car owners

Cost: $100/year

Electric car owners will pay their share through a $100 vehicle fee for zero emission vehicles.

How much it would cost you

Where will the new revenue go?

The current excise tax on gasoline is split between state and local agencies. The state’s share pays for maintenance, operations, planning, and support activities for the State highway system. The local share is split between cities and counties for maintenance of the local road system. The increased portion of taxes will go towards various state programs that will serve both state and local needs.

Most of the funding will be spent on maintenance
0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 Planning and research Off highway vehicles Other local funding Trade corridors Congestion Transit Maintenance and repairs $33.7 $8.7 $3.8 $3.0 $2.0 $0.82 $0.32 (billion)
Most of the funding will be spent on maintenance
0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 Planning and research Off highway vehicles Other local funding Trade corridors Congestion Transit Maintenance and repairs $33.7 $8.7 $3.8 $3.0 $2.0 $0.82 $0.32 (billion)

Sources: Caltrans, California Department of Finance, Times reporting

The page was updated on Apr. 17, 2017 to include the personal cost calculator


12:53 p.m., April 28, 2017: This article was updated with Gov. Jerry Brown signing the legislation.

11:45 p.m., April 27, 2017: This article was updated to reflect passage of the legislation by the California statehouse.

April 17

This article was updated to include the personal cost calculator

This article was originally published on April 6, 2017.