Tackling the Local HBP’s Toughest Issues

March 19, 2020

The local members of the HBP Advisory Committee planed a session focused on HBP issues for the 2020 Spring Conference: “Tackling the Local HBP’s Toughest Issues”. Some of the draft slides are provided below (we weren’t quite done when the conference was cancelled due to COVID-19).  Following is a summary of some of the tough issues the HBP advisory committee is currently tackling that the session would have addressed: 

  1. The program is overcommitted: 17+ years of backlog
  2. The $300 million annual funding level has not been increased since 2009 (**note: according to Caltrans cost data bridge construction costs have escalated approximately 260% since 2009)
  3. Project construction, regulatory, and delivery soft cost increases are overtaking Caltrans’ efforts to reduce the program backlog
  4. Local bridges are aging faster than we can rehab or replace them
  5. Average project delivery time is approximately 8-years
  6. Complex environmental & federal regulations & roadblocks
  7. Undoing the open-ended HBP management style and resetting local expectations of the HBP

Key points in response to these issues: 

Consensus on Amount of Local Bridge Needs: In 2019 the committee recommended providing HBP funding for the bridge portion of the 2020 Local Streets & Road Needs Assessment. This work includes developing a stand-alone local bridge needs assessment deliverable. 

Reset Local Agencies Expectations of the HBP: HBP funding may not be available when projects are ready for construction if the HBP backlog is not addressed ASAP. Cities & Counties can expect Caltrans to start limiting HBP contributions to cost-increases and/or participating items. 

Need to Increase Local Bridge Funding & Spending: California’s local agency bridge inventory data shows concerning trends such as an average increase in local bridge age and a decline in overall City & County bridge conditions. The declining condition verifies the historical disparity in local bridge needs data & spending amounts (approximately $600 million – $1 billion of annual estimated local bridge needs compared to estimated $300 million annual funding / spending). Additional bridge funding is needed to close the need/spending gap. 

HBP Reform Policies: Caltrans is developing “HBP Reform Policies” to address the program backlog and project delivery issues. See other posts related to this topic. 

Engagement with Local Agency HBP Advisory Committee Representatives: The conference session was intended to introduce new engagement tools for City and County public works officials to ask questions, provide feedback on the presentation, and provide feedback on the HBP reform policies.

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