Caltrans seeks volunteers for road charge pilot to pay for infrastructure

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California Construction News staff writer

Caltrans is looking for volunteers to participate in a statewide pilot program to test a “road charge” system to pay for critical infrastructure repairs.

A road charge is a per mile fee where all drivers pay to maintain the roads based on how much they drive, rather than how much gas they buy. As the collection of gas tax revenue is estimated to decrease in the coming years, Senate Bill 339  established the pilot program to test the potential feasibility of alternative ways to maintain the state’s roads.

The six-month pilot will be conducted from August 2024 to January 2025, showing how the system would work including the payment process. Participation is optional – interested drivers can complete a form through the end of June. Eligible participants can earn up to $400 in incentives for helping test the new system and providing their feedback.

California has been studying road charge as a potential long-term solution to pay for infrastructure projects, and many other states also are looking into it or have already started programs.

The pilot will test revenue collection by requiring pilot participants in the pilot be charged a flat per-mile fee or a customized fee based on the miles-per-gallon fuel economy of their vehicle and results will be reported to the Legislature.

Caltrans is seeking a wide range of participants and vehicle types that reflect the state’s diversity and demographics. Drivers of either gas or electric non-commercial passenger vehicles will be asked to drive as they would normally and pay their monthly charge online.

GPS data is anonymized, and any personal information collected during the pilot will be destroyed shortly after the pilot concludes.

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