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California jump-starting road fixes with revenue from new gas taxes, fees still on the horizon

It could be a bumpy road ahead for Congress — not least because, well, they'll have to find ways to fund fixes for old, bumpy roads.
FILE: California's roads have been deteriorating for years. In April, politicians in Sacramento finally hashed out a deal to fund repairs.

Drivers could see repairs made to several major roads sooner than expected as state officials accelerate several road repair projects before the revenues from approved gas taxes and vehicle registration fees even come in. 

Senate Bill 1 became law earlier this year. It aims to raise $5.2 billion a year to fix the roads through a combination of tax increases and new fees. The gas tax will jump by 12 cents starting Nov. 1, and drivers will pay a new vehicle registration fee as of Jan. 1.

But while the revenue will not flow for several months, Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty told Air Talk Friday that officials are already making plans to accelerate road projects.

"With that revenue on the horizon, it gives us the opportunity to move a lot of the projects that we have in the mix forward," he said.

Thirteen repaving projects will begin this summer with 50 more projects being readied to get underway by the spring, all together totaling $285 million in improvements.

In Southern California, more than $18 million will be spent to repave a section of the Interstate 605 in the San Gabriel Valley, parts of Highway 1 in the South Bay, Highway 14 in the Antelope Valley, the 101 in the San Fernando Valley and the 710 in Long Beach, with construction starting as early as this month.

The planned spending comes amid an effort by Orange County Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen to put a ballot measure before voters to repeal the new taxes and fees. Allen must still collect enough signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, and he's currently suing the state for what he alleges is a misrepresentation in the language for the ballot petition.

Polls have shown more than half of Californians don’t support raising gas taxes to pay for roads.