SACRAMENTO - More than 12 percent of the 2,667 new vehicles that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has bought since 2007 are sitting unused and gathering dust on state lots, according to newly released data confirmed by the department, reported the Sacramento Bee.

The report, prepared by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield's committee, revealed that 319 of the 2,667 vehicles Caltrans has bought since 2007 are waiting to be assembled. Another 5 percent are assembled and waiting to be deployed.

Caltrans officials say that after they buy new vehicles and trucks, their department takes up to three years to assemble various components for their custom-designed light- and heavy-duty trucks in Sacramento before they actually hit the road.

The department also says state-mandated furloughs have cut the staff's ability to complete orders at the Sacramento assembly plant by 15 percent.

Earlier this year, the Bee reported Caltrans had spent more than $4 million on vehicles that were parked and undeployed for months, and in some cases, years, while lawmakers slashed state workers' pay and eliminated key public services to erase deficits after tax revenue plunged.

Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki was grilled about his department's vehicle purchases and other costly expenses on Dec. 16.

Iwasaki said his department has faced several challenges on the fleet management front, including the furloughs and new state Air Resources Board emissions regulations for trucks that carry a Dec. 31 deadline. He said vehicle assembly work has been delayed while the department rushes to retrofit trucks with pollution-control devices to comply with the new air regulations or risk fines of $1,000 a day, reported the Bee.