So far this summer, almost 50,000 Californians have had to evacuate their homes to escape from wildfires. In emergencies like that, firefighters know every minute counts.
That’s why the California Professional Firefighters, along with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and other leading public safety organizations, oppose Proposition 6, the dangerous ballot initiative that will make California’s roads and bridges less safe.
Here’s what we’re up against: 1,600 of our bridges and overpasses are structurally deficient and unsafe. A new study shows that six of the nation’s top 50 most dangerous highways are in California, with Interstate 5 the fourth most dangerous in the nation. Also, 89 percent of California counties have roads that are in “poor” or “at-risk” condition.
Proposition 6 recklessly eliminates more than $5 billion a year in transportation funds and jeopardizes more than 6,500 bridge and road safety, transportation and public transit improvement projects that are already in progress. That will only make road conditions worse and jeopardize the safety of California drivers.
In the Sacramento region, Proposition 6 would eliminate more than $1 billion in funding over the next decade, threatening to stop projects currently underway including 561 to fix potholes and repave roads, 247 to improve road and driver safety, 42 to repair or replaces bridges and overpasses, 60 to relieve traffic congestion and 80 to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Other safety measures, such as pavement striping, guardrails, flashing signs and rumble strips, could also be killed under Proposition 6.
A few weeks ago, another section of Interstate 5 near Richards Boulevard crumbled, resulting in collisions and flat tires, snarling the morning commute. That was bad enough. Now just imagine something like that happening on an evacuation route, or on a road fire trucks were using to reach wildfires.
In June, voters overwhelmingly voted to make sure the gas tax funds for these projects are used as intended, so the Legislature can’t divert them for other uses. But if Proposition 6 passes, the funding goes away, these vital projects stop cold and all we will have to show for it is wasted money and increasingly dangerous roads and bridges.
More than 300 public safety organizations, local transportation agencies, cities and counties, environmental groups, business and labor organizations throughout California have joined together to say “no” on Proposition 6.
Safe and well-maintained roads are vital to ensuring that first responders can arrive at the scene quickly and save lives. Crumbling roads and bridges cause traffic accidents that lead to injury and fatalities and can delay emergency operations.
California firefighters have enough on their plates right now without having to worry about a dangerous ballot measure that makes our jobs harder.