Monday Must Reads: Transportation Funding Hurt by Plummeting Gas Prices; Bullet Train May Connect to Bay Area First


Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Plummeting oil and gas prices will force state officials to slash transportation funding by about $754 million over the next five years, the LA Times$ reports. California’s transportation funding is tied to the state’s gas tax, and revenues have nosedived because of falling gas prices due to the oversupply of oil worldwide. The planned $754 million cut in funding is the largest in two decades, and more cuts are expected unless gas prices rebound.

2. State officials may switch the first operating segment of California’s new high-speed rail system from Southern California to the Bay Area, the LA Times$ reports. Officials are considering making the first operating segment from Bakersfield to San Jose, because the planned route to Los Angeles will be costly and time-consuming, due to the fact that it must traverse “the geologically complex Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains with a large system of tunnels and aerial structures.”

3. Bay Area transportation officials finally got some good news about the Bay Bridge: The problem of water leaks on the new eastern span’s cable system appears to be fixed, the Chron reports. The leaks were threatening to cause widespread corrosion on the $6.4 billion bridge, but Caltrans crews seem to have plugged the leaks with large amounts of caulk.

4. The big gas-line leak near Porter Ranch in Southern California, which has emitted massive amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in the past few months, has “put out the equivalent of 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — more greenhouse gas than 440,000 cars emit in a year,” the LA Times$ reports.

5. Far more Californians die from drug overdoses and poisonings than in car accidents each year, the SacBee$ reports, citing new estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than twice as many people die of drug overdoses than are murdered. Most drug overdoses are associated with prescription painkillers and heroin.

6. And the City of Pacifica has declared a state of emergency because several cliffside homes and apartment buildings are at risk of plunging into the Pacific Ocean, as large waves from El Niño-fueled storms continue to erode the town's coastal bluffs, the Chron reports.