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Transportation Planning - FAQ


Question : 1) How are road projects funded?

Answer: Funds for maintenance and construction of county roads are derived from a variety of sources. The majority of the money available on a yearly basis comes from the State Fuel Tax of 18 cents per gallon. The state allocates fuel taxes and fees which may only be used for transportation purposes to cities and counties statewide.  Generally speaking, the county's share of the fuel tax funds is proportionally allocated on the number of registered vehicles in the county. This translates to just over $60.00 annually for each vehicle registered in the county.

Since San Bernardino is a very large county with many sparsely populated and widely separated communities, the revenue in terms of dollars per mile of road is very low. The more densely populated counties such as Orange or Los Angeles receive ten and five times respectively as much State Fuel tax money per mile of road for their county road systems. Over the years the ability of the county to maintain and improve the road system has been severely affected by inflation. Since the fuel tax is on a per gallon basis, the amount paid by the average driver has actually declined over the last several years due to more fuel-efficient vehicles.  

Other sources of funding include Measure I the 1/2 cent sales tax surcharge passed by the voters in 1989. Many significant county transportation projects have been made possible with this funding. Measure I monies may only be used in the geographic area where it is generated. Measure I monies have defined percentages that must be spent on arterial roads, on local roads and on transit.


Note:    Property taxes are used for many purposes including education, fire and police protection, but are not used to pave or maintain roads.

Question: 2) Can the County pave my dirt road?

Answer: The County Department of Public Works researches County documents and records about any particular road. Our research confirms whether the road is in the County Maintained Road System(CMRS). If the road or section of road is not in the CMRS, by law(California Streets and Highway Code, Section 2150), the County is not allowed to do any maintenance or repair work on roads that are not in the system. Any maintenance or repair work of other roads is the responsibility of the respective property owners along that road. The County cannot pave or grade road that are not in the CMRS using Gas Tax money.

Often, one of the reasons a land purchase, especially in the mountain or desert areas appears to be a "good deal" is that the road or roads serving the parcel are not in the CMRS. Purchasers should check to see if the road serving their parcel is maintained by the County. If the road is not in the CMRS, the purchasers must realize that they are the ones responsible for maintenance of the road.

There are basically two options available to property owners if they do not live on a CMRS roadway:

The first option is for the property owners of parcels adjacent to the road to hire a consultant/contractor to pave the road to County Standards. (For the County to consider taking the road into the system, any plans and construction must incorporate improvements that include right-of-way dedication and paving at no cost to the County. To ensure the road meets County Standards, engineers from County’s Department of Public Works must review the plans and regularly inspect and approve the road through construction). The Board of Supervisors must approve adoption of the road by unanimous consent at a regularly scheduled Board Meeting.

The second option is by special road assessment. In many areas, property owners pay a special road assessment for road paving and maintenance. This program is administered by the County through the County Special Districts Department located at:

157 West Fifth Street,
Second Floor San Bernardino,
CA 92415-0450

Public Information Number (909) 387-5940
However, the Department of Public Works must reiterate that the County cannot and will not be improving or maintaining any road not in the County Maintained Road System.

Question: 3) If my dirt road is in the County maintained road system, can the County pave it?

Answer: Since San Bernardino is a very large county with many sparsely populated and widely separated communities, the revenue in terms of dollars per mile of road is very low. The more densely populated counties such as Orange or Los Angeles receive ten and five times respectively as much State Fuel tax money per mile of road for their county road systems. Over the years the ability of the county to maintain and improve the road system has been severely affected by inflation. Since the fuel tax is on a per gallon basis, the amount paid by the average driver has actually declined over the last several years due to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Other sources of funding include Measure I the 1/2 cent sales tax surcharge passed by the voters in 1989. Many significant county transportation projects have been made possible with this funding. Measure I monies may only be used in the geographic area where it is generated. Measure I monies have defined percentages that must be spent on arterial roads, on local roads and on transit.

In general, due to lack of funds, the County only paves a limited amount of existing dirt roads. Developers or property owners normally pave the roads to County standards and the County then takes them into the system. For existing dirt roads that are in the system, Special Assessment Districts can be created to pave the roads whereby the adjacent property owners join together and fund the paving. Whenever special funding becomes available to pave a dirt road, it would have to compete with all the various areas where there is dirt roads based on amount of traffic, etc. The County actively pursues special grant funds that are made available on a competitive basis from various programs, such as from the Air Quality Management Districts or through State and Federal Aid Programs. Although the county has had measurable success in obtaining additional specific project monies, these latter sources of funds are erratic, depending upon the competitive climate and selection criteria.

To help mitigate the impacts of growth, Transportation Facilities Fee Plans have been established in various areas of the county. The transportation needs for these areas are calculated and a fee established that is paid through the land development process. These fees are reserved to complete transportation projects in the fee area.


Question: 4) How does County select and prioritize road maintenance projects?

Answer: County roads are monitored on a regular basis and assigned a Pavement Condition Index (PCI). This rating, along with the average daily traffic, funding availability, and other factors is evaluated to justify new maintenance projects. Some low volume roadways may only received a minor surface treatment such as a chip seal or slurry seal. Heavily traveled regional or arterial type roadways may received full asphalt overlay or rehabilitation such as pulverization, milling, or other process. The various strategies are analyzed by the department’s Pavement Management Division and Transportation Program Management.

Contact:
Written comments can be sent to:
Department of Public Works- Transportation
825 E. 3rd Street, room 143
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0835



Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Department of Public Works, County of San Bernardino, California