Nine new highway boondoggles slated to cost $25 billion

Highway expansion projects too often come with big price tags and paltry benefits. Yet at least nine new such expansions are planned across the country, including one in California.

On June 18, 2019, CALPIRG released its fifth “Highway Boondoggles” report, which profiles these projects. Making the list is California’s proposed High Desert Freeway, which is expected to cost $8 billion and, in stark contrast to California’s global warming goals, will inevitably lead to more driving, more pollution and more sprawling desert development.

“To improve California’s transportation system and hit our climate and clean air goals, we must reduce our reliance on cars and highways,” said Emily Rusch, CALPIRG Education Fund executive director. “This project does the opposite, doubling down on a car-centric system that will encourage more people to hit the road…”

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Nudging Union City into the 21st Century

Route of the Union City Mayor’s New Highway

Here are two recent BATWG letters, each emphasizing the superiority of a new Dumbarton Rail service between the Union City BART  station and Caltrain’s Redwood City Station over U.C. Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci’s  “anachronistic short highway to nowhere”.

 Bay Area Transportation Working Group  

                                                              July 9, 2019

Dear Mayor Dutra-Vernacic (Mayor of Union City): 

We remember you as are a strong supporter of the plan to create a passenger rail service via a rebuilt Dumbarton Rail Bridge between the Redwood City Caltrain Station and the Union City BART Station.  We agree.    Continue reading

The Truth about HOT Lanes

HotLanesHigh Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are for buses and carpools. When operated  effectively and with proper enforcement, they work well.   HOT lanes are something else again. HOT lanes allow freeway users of means to pay substantial fees to speed past the rest of us inching along in the adjacent “mixed flow” lanes. While some might regard this as acceptable, here’s the problem.  MTC’s billion dollar ongoing HOT lane program is doing far more than just converting HOV lanes to HOT  lanes.  It is also closing the gaps between HOV sections by adding 300 lane miles of new asphalt so as to create a continuous system of HOT lanes throughout the nine MTC Bay Area Counties.  Continue reading

The Case for Congestion Pricing

CongestionPricing-DoesItReallyHaveToComeToThis?Excerpted from Streetsblog LA January 16, 2019: “At today’s meeting of L.A. Metro’s Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee, UCLA professor Michael Manville made a convincing case for implementing congestion pricing”

Excerpted from the Los Angeles Times January 22, 2019: “For years, Southern California lawmakers have tried to steer clear of decisions that make driving more expensive or miserable, afraid of angering one of their largest groups of constituents.

“But now, transportation officials say, congestion has grown so bad in Los Angeles County that politicians have no choice but to contemplate charging motorists more to drive — a strategy that has stirred controversy but helped cities in other parts of the world tame their own traffic. The [LA] Metropolitan Transportation Authority is pushing to study how what’s commonly referred to as congestion pricing could work in L.A….”  Continue reading

Report from Union City: “City Hall looks Back”

Despite its mega-freeways, the Bay Area is the second or third most traffic-choked region in the entire country. So why do we have such bad traffic and why do larger cities with smaller roads have better mobility?

Perhaps the problem is that roads are virtually all we have. Like a foolish investor, maybe we’ve placed most of our eggs in one basket; namely in a transportation straightjacket that makes most of us overly dependent upon auto travel, to the point where much of the Region is now saturated in cars. What little mass transit we have is fragmented and often unreliable; a far cry from the world class network of trains and buses the Region needs and deserves. As a result, most Bay Area residents are forced to haul bulky personal vehicles with them virtually everywhere they go. Anyone who thinks that this is a good way of to get 4 million bay area employees to their jobs every day just isn’t paying attention. Continue reading

Last Year’s SB1 Gas Tax Increase: Yes or No


SB1 was enacted by the State of California on April 28, 2017. Per
SB1, beginning on November 1, 2017 Californians started paying an
additional twelve cents a gallon for gasoline and an additional twenty cents
a gallon for diesel fuel. SB1 also provides that beginning on July 1, 2020
these taxes will rise with inflation.

Where will the SB1 money go? According to an April 28, 2017 article in
the Sacramento Bee, 70% of the funds raised by SB1 will go to the
Roadway Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program, State highways and
local streets and roads, with the remainder divided up among public transit,
goods movement, traffic-reduction measures, bicycle/ pedestrian
improvements and miscellaneous administrative and other uses.

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