Sen. Beall Obtains $10 Million for Silicon Valley Freeway Clean-Ups
SAN JOSE – Thanks to Sen. Jim Beall’s persistent urging, the California Department of Transportation will issue over $10.2 million in new contracts to clean up Silicon Valley freeways.
“With this new state funding, drivers in Santa Clara County are going to see cleaner highways with less trash,’’ said Sen. Beall, chairman of the state Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.
“Since 2014, my office has received many complaints about litter, graffiti, and increasing homeless encampments on freeways. Consequently, it’s been my goal to get more money to remove overgrown brush and debris. Caltrans’ investment will also make our local freeways safer.’’
The increased funding is financed, in part, by Beall’s Senate Bill 1, legislation approved last year to generate $5.2 billion annually for the repair and maintenance of state and local streets, bridges, and highways.
After neighborhood leaders voiced concerns about dumping and encampments, Beall established a working group of Caltrans officials and local government representatives four years ago to respond to problems identified by residents. In order to provide the local Caltrans district with sufficient resources, Beall went to work, advocating Caltrans administrators for more local maintenance funding.
Late last week, Caltrans informed Beall that two maintenance contracts, estimated at $10.2 million, were scheduled to be approved soon. Besides clean-up, the crews will install fencing to prevent people who are homeless from establishing encampments beside freeways.
Despite the passage of No Place Like Home, Senate Bill 2 (Atkins), and Senate Bill 3 (Beall), California has not yet been able to fill the funding gap from the loss of redevelopment funds and statewide housing bonds passed in the 2000s that helped create affordable housing. The critical shortage of affordable housing has been a major factor in the rise in homelessness.
To provide faster help, Beall and Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, have introduced SB 912, a proposal to use $2 billion in one-time available revenue to accelerate housing construction for the homeless and low-income families. The money would be invested in the state Multifamily Housing Program and supporting local government homeless housing projects.
“We can’t let people languish in tents beside freeways as traffic rumbles by,’’ Beall said. “With SB 912, people who are homeless will get into safe housing so they can get the support services they need.’’