How Accountable is the Road Repair and Accountability Act (aka SB 1)?

SB 1 workshops are starting up again beginning Tuesday, September 21, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Some partners in this network have long contributed to the advocacy around SB 1, and know the drill. Joining these workshops is vital for reinforcing and holding the California Transportation Commission (CTC) accountable to shifting transportation funding. Money needs to go to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address inequities in mobility as required by the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI). 

However, this year the workshops are less accessible, and it will be harder to ensure there are shifts in transportation funding. For this reason, the Road Repair and Accountability Act is not living up to its name. The CTC needs to create more ways for stakeholders to engage in the discussion. We are encouraging folks to advocate for this as well. 

Background on SB 1: The Road Repair and Accountability Act

For those new (like me, Nicole Cheng) or need a refresher, SB 1 provides the largest, long-term funding to fix, maintain, and operate California’s transportation infrastructure. The money comes mainly from gasoline taxes, so there are promises of transparency and accountability in how the money would be distributed. In the CTC’s Annual Report to the Legislature (2020), they disclose that SB 1 allocated $7.3 billion to transportation projects for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. 


The figure to the right is from this report. It illustrates a general estimate of the SB 1 money allocation. Around 75% of the money went to highway expansion, repair, etc. The rest (25%) went to active transit. 

This is problematic. According to Caltrans’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Report, travel from vehicles on California’s state highway system resulted in 89 MMTCO2e. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially since the recent IPCC report links emissions from human activity to warming global temperatures, and changing climate. And this is linked to heat events, wildfires, and droughts.

For this reason, it is vital for the CTC to invest more money in active transportation, projects that reduce vehicle miles traveled, and other transit. The same Caltrans report finds that one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to avoid highway expansion projects, and facilitate multimodal improvements. 

Workshop inaccessibility

The SB 1 workshops are a chance for stakeholders to elevate the need for GHG reducing projects and shape the guidelines that select projects to be funded. Unfortunately, the workshops this year are even more limiting for interested advocates and other community based organizations. 

In the kick-off workshop, CTC staff announced that meetings are topic and consensus based. This means that topics will only be discussed at one (in some cases two) workshop(s) and decisions will be made during those workshops. Once topics are discussed and decided, CTC staff are unlikely to revisit that topic.

Some of the actions that we feel would improve access are: going back to providing the recording of workshops, expanding workshop opportunities, and/or expanding ways that communities can provide input. For example, CTC staff can create office hours for community input on the funding guidelines, not just for project applicants.

Call to action

We need ClimatePlan partners to call out how disappointing this workshop format is, especially since the CTC has adopted CAPTI, in which one of the principles was to adopt best practices for community engagement.

Please join the workshops, provide verbal and written comments and contact CTC commissioners to explain how important this is. ClimatePlan has created some talking points to help.  We also have created a CAPTI explainer; it highlights actions around  SB 1 (and beyond) to implement CAPTI’s framework.

Our Strategic Direction


get updates