TransForm's new report proposes new vision for the Bay Area's express lane network

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

Yesterday was the final day of public comment on the draft Plan Bay Area. Along with our allies and supporters, TransForm made sure that our regional agencies received plenty of input for consideration in the next phase of the process.

We are thrilled that so many people got involved in this effort. TransForm supporters submitted 125 individual written comments and spoke at nearly every one of the nine public meetings over the past two months. That’s not counting people who posted to the online town hall or submitted comments via the form on the Plan Bay Area website. Thank you to everyone who submitted constructive comments to inform the next stage of the plan.

We also submitted our hot-off-the-press white paper entitled Moving People, Not Just Cars: Ensuring Choice, Equity & Innovation in MTC’s Express Lane Network.

At a projected cost of $6.7 billion, the proposed Network is the largest highway project and the second-largest project overall in Plan Bay Area. We thought it merited some closer scrutiny. We’ve been concerned about MTC’s Express Lane Network for awhile. This paper goes much more in-depth to analyze the plan and provide detailed recommendations about how to improve it.

Our findings confirm that MTC’s Express Lane plan is out of balance. MTC plans to spend most of the money to build – or pay financing costs for – hundreds of miles of new highway lanes. Roughly half the new express lanes will be converted from current HOV lanes, but the other half are planned as new construction at a cost of $2.8 billion – more than ten times the cost of the HOV lane conversion.

MTC Express Lanes Network: New Construction vs. Conversion

What’s more, other regions ranging from Los Angeles to Chicago to Miami have found ways to invest the revenue from their express lanes in public transportation and other options to help truly reduce congestion for the long term. But MTC has allocated exactly zero dollars of express lane revenue to anything other than constructing new express lanes. And their approach to equity is similarly sub-par when compared to what other regions have already implemented.

We can do better, and our white paper lays out how. Moving People, Not Just Cars calls on MTC to stay focused on the goal – helping Bay Area residents get around more quickly and easily – by focusing on equity, choice, and innovation in our region’s Express Lane Network. You can download the full paper or the executive summary by clicking here.

And if that’s not enough to read, TransForm and our allies submitted the following joint comment letters addressing different aspects of Plan Bay Area as well as the plan overall (note – we will update this list as we learn about additional comment letters):

  • 25 organizations, including TransForm signed onto a letter identifying concerns and providing suggestions for the full Plan Bay Area.
  • TransForm authored a separate letter about the Express Lane Network, to which we also added a copy of our Moving People, Not Just Cars white paper.
  • TransForm signed onto this letter along with several conservation groups.
  • 25 organizations, including many members of the Six Wins for Social Equity Network and partners, sent this letter with detailed recommendations on transit, displacement, and affordable housing in Plan Bay Area. TransForm supports these recommendations but didn’t get listed among the sign-ons before the letter was sent in.
  • Several organizations in the Six Wins network sent a separate letter with specific comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report.
  • Four organizations including our ally Greenbelt Alliance sent an additional letter to focus on habitat conservation.
  • The California Endowment sent this letter, penned by President Robert K. Ross.
  • The BART District sent this letter with comments that highlight the system's State of Good Repair needs and reccomend optimizing use of our existing transportation infrastructure.
  • San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and San Francisco County Transportation Authority sent joint comments: this letter on the Plan Bay Area, and another letter on the Draft Environmental Impact Report.
  • Public Advocates, along with three other partners, sent a very extensive (24-page) letter commenting on draft Plan Bay Area, and the process of developing the plan. The letter includes significant detail about proposed improvements to the plan based on the EEJ Alternative scenario.
  • SPUR's comprehensive comment letter includes recommendations that support TransForm's call to change the Bay Area's HOT lane network to "Eliminate Highway expansions in the HOT/Express Lane Network and explore/study the conversion of mixed flow lanes to HOV" and to shift more projected growth in ways outlined in the EEJ Alternative scenario.
  • The Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters submitted a letter urging the agencies to rethink the proposed regional HOT Network plan.
  • A few Santa Clara County residents sent a joint comment letter highlighting policy solutions in the EEJ Alternative scenario.
  • Alameda County Public Health Department sent a letter recommending policy adjustments to the plan from the EEJ Alternative that would result in better health outcomes for all Bay Area residents.

What next? For today, it’s time to take a deep breath and let agency staff start sifting through all our input. 

In mid-June, elected officials will discuss recommendations, and we’ll be right there to make sure they’re choosing the best transportation and land-use strategies for our region’s next twenty-five years.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted comments. Check back soon for the next ways you can help ensure that the Bay Area is on the right path for a healthy and sustainable future.

Updated 5/21/2013: Added links to letters from BART and San Francisco agencies.
Updated 5/22/2013: Added link to detailed letter from Public Advocates and partners. 
Updated 5/29/2013: Added link to comprehensive comment letter from SPUR.
Updated 5/31/2013: Added links to letters from SCCLCV and Santa Clara County residents.
Updated 6/10/2013: Added link to letter from Alameda County Public Health Department.
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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.