(KPIX 5) — Overloaded highways, rundown roads, pipes and canals – Bay Area cities don’t have the money to fix the rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.
“In order of magnitude, it’s billions of dollars we have to catch up,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.
Rep. DeSaulnier is on the Transportation Committee and represents cities in the East Bay where crater-sized sinkholes have swallowed up roadways.
“We have to spend more money,” said DeSaulnier. “It’s really important that we invest. The question is where is it going to come from in the federal budget.”
In Moraga, the sinkhole at Rheem Boulevard and Center Street is a case study about what can happen in a town that hasn’t raised taxes to pay for infrastructure issues.
The crater sized sinkhole hasn’t been fixed in nearly a year.
“We have a revenue issue, not enough general fund to take care of these items,” Moraga Public Works Director Edric Kwan.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency to open up federal funds to repair the sinkhole.
But Kwan says getting the money is no guarantee. “We worked diligently with my team to get all the plans in order to go out to bid, and now we have to wait,” she said.
As the money winds its way down from the federal government to Caltrans to the local level, Moraga has patched up and covered the sinkhole for the winter months.
But it’s a temporary fix.
According to Kwan, the money will be available in the spring to start repairs. The Federal Highway Administration confirmed it will reimburse the city for the cost.
A few miles away in Orinda, crews were still working to fix the 22-foot deep sinkhole that opened up after severe storms.
“If you told me, ‘Do you want to buy this, it will last 50 years,’ I would say yeah … well, we are at 50 years now,” said Orinda Public Works Director Tod Fierner.
The needs are coming at critical time, when President Trump has promised to build and build big.
For all his differences with the President, Gov. Brown pledged to support an infrastructure plan. “Amen to that, man. Amen to that, brother,” said Brown. “We’re there with you.”
Infrastructure issues seem to cut through the bipartisan divide.
“Republicans and Democrats realize we’ve deferred infrastructure investment in this country for way too long,” said DeSaulnier. “And we also know it will help the economy.”
But lawmakers wonder whether a Trump infrastructure plan will trickle down to California cities, and how quickly.
White House officials making a list of priority projects are now asking governors for input.