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Freeway Widenings

Advocates to MTC: NO MORE WIDENING

All the major advocacy groups want to make it clear to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission: they won't support a regional measure that includes freeway widening

3:29 PM PST on January 11, 2024

Photo by Caltrans of their latest widening project, the 101 ‘express lanes’

For years now, advocates for sustainable transportation have had to hold their noses and accept a certain percentage of funds going to freeway widening in order to get essential transportation measures passed. It was always known that at some point this would have to stop, because widening freeways is making the environment worse while doing nothing in the long run to alleviate congestion. On Friday morning, the MTC/ABAG joint legislation committee meets to discuss the contents of a new regional measure. Nearly 30 organizations, including SPUR, Transform, the Bay Area's bicycle coalitions, etc. signed onto a letter making it clear: they will not support yet another measure that includes funding for freeway widening. Here's the letter.

Dear Commissioners:

As organizations committed to environmental sustainability and equitable transportation investments, we appreciate MTC's work toward a potential transportation revenue measure. The need for significant new funding for our region's transit operators is critical to prevent severe service cuts and enhance overall service quality. We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and a thriving transit system is imperative to meet the Bay Area’s sustainability objectives and to reduce our region’s greenhouse gas emissions.

We must ensure that the measure leaves a positive impact on the climate and our communities. We recognize the importance of generating revenue for public transit operations as a primary goal for this measure and we also understand the potential need to include some non-transit investments in the expenditure plan. Nonetheless, we strongly object to the development of a transportation revenue measure that supports highway widening. Our concern is based on evidence that highway widening:

  • Promotes higher levels of automobile use and, consequently, contributes to increasedgreenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, noise pollution, and traffic hazards, which oftendisproportionately affect communities of color, people with limited incomes, seniors, andchildren.
  • Draws riders away from public transit, resulting in reduced political support and farerevenue for transit agencies.
  • Redirects funds toward road infrastructure that would otherwise be available for vitalneeds such as transit operations, expanding transit services, pedestrian and bicycleinfrastructure improvements, safer streets, and incentives for sustainable transportationchoices.
  • Fails to solve the congestion problems that motivate such investments.

The measure being contemplated by the Bay Area region represents a generational investment in our transportation system that will support projects and programs decades into the future.

In 2024, in the midst of a climate emergency, it is simply unconscionable to authorize new funding for projects that work directly against our climate goals. A successful measure will need to avoid highway widening. Please develop a measure that we can all support.

Thank you for your consideration.

***

Note, you can add Streetsblog to that list of folks supporting this letter: enough with the widening!

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