SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The economic downturn has been a blessing in disguise for California’s highways and interstate freeways, which are finally getting some much-needed attention.

Highways from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe and down the Central Coast are getting repaved at a rapid rate. And while the federal stimulus bill gave the state plenty of money for these projects, California has also been helped by contractors submitting lower bids to make sure they get work.

KCBS’ Bob Butler Reports:

Caltrans has awarded over 250 paving projects this fiscal year and the low bids have provided millions in savings for the state. Some of the projects that have benefited include $2.5 million for repaving Highway 237, $2.6 million for Highway 85 in San Jose and another $10 million to repave Interstate 80 from the Contra Costa County line to the Bay Bridge toll plaza.

But Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said that while this is great news for the time being, there is a concern that if a transportation bill isn’t renewed by Congress, that could drastically could reduce spending.

“It could be 30 percent less. It could be the same amount,” Dougherty said. “Arguably, there are not enough federal transportation dollars today to accomplish all the things that we need to accomplish on an aging infrastructure.”

Congress is scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday and the current Surface Transportation Bill, which expires at the end of September, is expected to be one of the first issues taken up by lawmakers.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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