Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Building Roads Builds Communities

In this article by the head of the California Dept. of Transportation the argument is made, once again, to open funding for roads—the addition to Highway 50 as one example—and it is an argument that should have carried the day long ago.

The environmentalist movement who oppose roads, claim adding more lanes to freeways encourages “suburban sprawl” or, to those of us who live in suburban Sacramento, better known as “our community”; and we are a small part of the vast majority of people who already do live—or someday dream of living—in a suburban home, with a yard for the kids to play in, relatively safe from crime, and pretty good schools.

An excerpt.

“In a column published in The Bee Jan. 8, Richard Seyman of the Environmental Council of Sacramento implies that the governor wants to "eliminate" environmental protections in the process of delivering the 10 projects in question. What the governor originally proposed was an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act and a permit streamlining process to accelerate the delivery of this targeted work in a way that would still protect the environment.

“The proposal is very similar to exemptions from CEQA that have been granted by the Legislature in the past, and would require Caltrans to consider and mitigate identified impacts for the projects. All 10 of the projects have already completed environmental reviews or are well along in the process. Four of the projects are within the existing state right of way, and only six require an accelerated permitting process.

“To make his case, Seyman focuses on the proposed Highway 50 High Occupancy Vehicle lane project included in the list of projects that the governor is seeking to advance. This project is part of the 20-year Regional Transportation Plan, meaning it has been approved by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and has met air quality conformity requirements for the region. In addition, the HOV lanes are a part of Measure A, a sales tax-funded program that garnered the support of 75 percent of area voters in November 2004.

“With respect to consideration of a transit alternative in this corridor, there is already a light-rail line running parallel to Highway 50.”