Rethinking California's Roads

Congested Highway
The state can save $78 billion and the climate by making better use of existing roads.

More Pavement Won't Solve Congestion

After 60 years of focusing on highway expansion, it's clear California can't build its way out of congestion. Continuing on a path of ever-widening highways would be enormously expensive, plus only yield more traffic and emissions.

Yet California’s Department of Transportation, Caltrans, has plans for $78 billion in new highway lanes despite the fact that the state already has 54,000 miles of highways.  Plus, there are already huge funding shortfalls to keep our existing public transportation, bridges, and roads in good shape.

We need the state to shift its thinking away from its highway-focused approach towards innovative ways to make better use of our existing roads. With new leadership at Caltrans, there are new opportunities to win big changes.

Caltrans Can Be a Leader in Progressive Transportation Planning

That’s why TransForm is advocating at the state level for Caltrans to make some big changes to modernize the agency’s approach, including:

  • Actively embracing “Smart Mobility,” a transportation planning framework that prioritizes smarter land use, public transportation, congestion pricing, and more.
  • Removing the roadblocks for innovative solutions.  Express lanes give carpools and buses an escape from traffic, and if the lanes aren’t full, allow solo drivers to use them for a fee.  Fees can then be used for express buses, vanpools, rideshare programs, and other affordable transportation choices along the same corridor.  Express lanes offer strong potential for better using our highways, which is why we need to the state to allow existing lanes to be converted into them (currently only new construction of express lanes is allowed).  
  • Using flexible dollars wisely.  In 2015, California will update its guidelines for how to spend flexible state transportation funds.  We need these funds to focus on projects that aren't about just pouring pavement, but instead are held to a high standard for health and sustainability.

We want California to lead the nation in progressive transportation planning, and for Caltrans to fully embrace its new mission: to provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.

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Get involved

For more information, contact Joshua Stark.