San Mateo County officials are moving forward with plans to widen Highway 101 in a futile attempt to pave their way out of traffic congestion.
The City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) has dismissed a more effective and less costly proposal to avoid highway expansion by converting two existing traffic lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes, also known as express lanes.
“If we build more capacity for cars, what we’ll end up with is more cars,” said Joseph Kott, vice president of Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities and a former transportation planning manager for C/CAG. “We’ll have spent a lot of money to get more cars, and will live with all the consequences of having more cars. It’s just not very sensible.”
Rather than convert two of Highway 101’s eight lanes to express lanes between San Bruno and Redwood City, C/CAG wants to keep all existing lanes free for solo drivers while expanding the roadway to 10 lanes.
C/CAG plans to conduct an environmental review that will only evaluate the addition of carpool lanes, which could then be converted to express toll lanes. The agency’s board passed a resolution greenlighting the study on June 11.
But according to a 2013 report from Kott and TransForm called “Innovation Required: Moving More People with Less Traffic,” converting existing lanes to express lanes would move 75 percent more people on 101 using 10 percent fewer vehicles, at far less cost, compared to building new, un-tolled carpool lanes. Even C/CAG admits that widening Highway 101 would increase driving and air pollution, and result in less transit ridership.