Caltrans hosts public forums on transportation

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Caltrans has been hosting public forums on transportation across the state. Thursday evening in Oakland, they held their sixth forum to get public input on traffic and road problems.

"We're doing these meetings to try and engage the public," Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. "We're all in the same boat. We're behind the 8-ball in keeping up and maintaining those roads."

Dougherty said more vehicles on the roads and less money spent maintaining the roads has California listed at 45, among the worst roadways in the country.

"If you don't fill your potholes, then you have to do minor repairs. If you don't do minor repairs, then you have to do complete reconstruction," Dougherty cautioned. "And at each step of the way it gets more expensive."

Caltrans says 10 percent of the vehicle traffic in the U.S. comes through California and 40 percent of all container freight enters at California ports. That's a lot of wear and tear on roads.

Governor Jerry Brown has already sounded the alarm, saying the state has a $57 billion shortfall for the state highway system.

"But we do need additional revenue to take care of the system we have," Dougherty explained.

Among the revenue sources brought up at Thursday's transportation forum, taxes and user fees.

"We're going to have to dig deeper into our own pockets," explained Steve Heminger of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "You don't want to let your infrastructure go to hell. That's the last thing you want to do."

The public was given a chance to fill out comment cards for the panel; which included MTC, Caltrans, Port of Oakland, and Google to answer.

Many of the seats in the theater were empty.

"One of the most important pieces of that is talking about goods movement," said Jean Banker with the Port of Oakland. "Goods movement is not a very sexy thing to talk about."

Caltrans said the information gathered from forums across the state will be used in conversations with the legislature.

"It's a unique time and it's largely driven by success," explained Heminger of the MTC. "So we are truly the victims of our own success."

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