Gas tax proposed to help pay for much-needed San Jose road repairs

SAN JOSE (KGO) -- A new bill aims to raise gas taxes in San Jose to help pay for road and state highway repairs.

An estimate one-fourth of all streets are in poor condition in San Jose. Potholes have gotten worse recently because of the Bay Area's winter storms and lawmakers said they have a way to get them repaired by adding a few pennies to the gasoline tax. And those who own an electric vehicle aren't going to be off the hook, either.

Those potholes all over the Bay Area are costing drivers a lot in repair bills. By some estimates, San Jose drivers are spending close to $900 on repairs per year. It's close to $1,000 for drivers in San Francisco and Oakland.

"Just last week on my car I had to replace a tire because a pothole blew it out," Orinda resident Amy Worth said.

And it's just going to get worse as road maintenance and repair spending falls behind. To fix that, St. Sen. Jim Beall from San Jose has written a bill to generate $5 billion to be split 50-50 for state and local projects.

The gas tax would go up 12 cents over three years. The vehicle registration fee would go up $38 and a $100 annual fee would be levied on zero-emission vehicles. "It's fiscally irresponsible to wait until roads fail, and then it costs eight times more to fix a road than maintaining it," Beall said.

San Jose spends nearly $600 million a year on street repairs and maintenance, but 600 miles of streets remain in poor condition and that hurts all drivers. "It costs the typical Santa Clara County commuter $1,700 a year in worse gas mileage, blowouts, and wear and tear on their vehicles," Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino said.

Drivers told ABC7 News paying more is never welcome, but they recognize the problem. "There's so many potholes everywhere. It doesn't seem like it would ever get done. It just seems like it's going to be a tax that people pay more on, but don't reap very many benefits," San Jose driver Matthew Malmo said.

When asked: Would you be willing to pay a few pennies more for your gas to fix the potholes? San Jose resident Phil Giammona said: "A few pennies, but not much more than that."

The state senate takes up the bill in two weeks. The goal is to have it reach the governor's desk within a month.
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