Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects

On October 3, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) sent the following letter to the California Department of Transportation regarding the Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects.

Dear Director Benipal:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) is concerned that planned freeway expansions in the Sacramento region will induce major increases in vehicle volumes, contravening the spirit and intent of state legislation such as SB 375. We are most concerned about the CapCity (SR 51) expansion (including possible widening of the American River bridge), and also concerned about the planned I-5 HOV lanes between Sacramento and Elk Grove, and the proposed widening of I-80 between Sacramento and Davis.

We appreciate the CapCity project team’s continued engagement with ECOS and its willingness to discuss the project’s progression. However, ECOS would like to expand this conversation into a broader discussion about regional transportation challenges and priorities. We are willing to work with Caltrans staff to coordinate discussions with other regional agencies and stakeholders with the aim of considering potential alternatives to address these challenges.

Following are some reasons why this conversation is timely: CARB’s greenhouse gas scoping plan shows that we must reduce VMT by 15% to meet 2050 goals for GHG emissions. Guidelines for SB 743 specify that the principal criterion in evaluating transportation projects is now VMT reduction, as opposed to congestion relief. Based on these Guidelines, Caltrans will need to consider induced travel demand from future expansion projects, such as caused by land use impacts. The Sacramento Transportation Authority is planning a tax measure for the 2020 ballot. SACOG is developing its draft preferred scenario the 2020 MTP/SCS. Finally, the fate of SB 1 hinges on the outcome of Proposition 6 in November.

The proposed CapCity expansion is emblematic of multiple other prospective projects in the region, and raises questions about historic approaches to longstanding problems as well as approaches to future challenges the region faces. We acknowledge that the challenges involved are significant, and that a rethinking of potential solutions also has great hurdles. We believe that the convergence of challenges and opportunities we face warrants an exploration of additional tools to increase travel-mode options, support infill housing and economic needs, and reduce VMT with increased transit operations and emerging strategies such as congestion pricing and shared mobility.

We would all benefit from a broadly based conversation regarding alternative solutions for regional mobility before major public funds are committed to significant increases in highway capacity. We hope that you will consider cooperating in such a discussion with ECOS, and we are sharing this letter with other organizations and government bodies that we hope to include in this conversation as well. We look forward to discussing possible meeting times and locations.

Sincerely,

Ralph Propper
ECOS President

Click here to read the full letter in PDF.

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Evening Hours on Light Rail Gold Line Extended!

June 14, 2018

A win for the Sacramento region! 

While light rail trains on the Gold Line previously stopped running before 7:00 pm, they will now run until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday!

How did this come to be?

Ten years ago, ECOS brought a lawsuit against Caltrans when it proposed adding lanes to Highway 50 to create High Occupancy Vehicle (“HOV”) lanes. Since these lanes are only restricted to High Occupancy Vehicles during certain hours, adding new lanes for this purpose is essentially just a widening of the freeway.

Freeway-widening induces urban sprawl, increases Vehicle Miles Traveled, increase greenhouse gas emissions and does not reduce traffic congestion after all.

That lawsuit was settled in 2008 when Caltrans agreed to pay $7.5 million to SacRT for improved light rail service between Folsom and Sacramento, along the Highway 50 corridor.

In 2017, Caltrans again proposed to create HOV lanes by adding more lanes to Highway 50 without adequately dealing with induced demand for sprawl development and additional miles traveled. Again, ECOS sued.

ECOS met with SacRT to determine what funding from settlement of this lawsuit would help public transit the most along this section of Highway 50, and it was determined that expanding light rail service past 7:00pm would be best, so Caltrans settled by agreeing to provide funding for that purpose.

At ECOS, reducing vehicle trips is an essential part of our work, and new service like this goes a long way toward helping us reach our goals. This project will open up car-free options to many people, as trips that were only possible in a vehicle are now possible via public transit. We are proud to be a part of this effort.

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Give Caltrans input on their latest freeway-widening plans

Give Caltrans input on their latest freeway-widening plans!

Caltrans ready to expand Yolo Causeway, seeks public’s input

Project would extend carpool lane from Solano County to Sacramento County

Remember: Several studies have shown that freeway expansion leads to increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT) (“induced demand”) and encourages sprawl, thereby exacerbating the region’s traffic and air quality woes, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. (excerpt from ECOS Press Release on our lawsuit filed against Caltrans re Highway 50, based on the same premise).

Bottom line? Adding lanes is expensive and doesn’t alleviate congestion after all.

Please attend one of Caltrans’ workshops as they seek public input abpout widening the I-80 freeway:

  • Thursday, June 14, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the West Sacramento Civic Center Galleria at 1110 West Capitol Ave. in West Sacramento
  • Thursday, June 21, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Sacramento City Hall at 915 I St. in Sacramento

News coverage

Caltrans shares plans to fix Yolo Causeway bottleneck
By Brian Hickey, KCRA
Updated: 9:03 AM PDT Jun 6, 2018
http://www.kcra.com/article/caltrans-shares-plans-to-fix-yolo-causeway-bottleneck/21096174

Caltrans seeks public input for expanding Yolo Causeway
By Max Resnick, KCRA
Updated: 6:14 PM PDT Jun 6, 2018
http://www.kcra.com/article/caltrans-seeks-public-input-for-expanding-yolo-causeway/21102465

Residents sound off about proposed changes to Yolo Causeway
By Brandi Cummings, KCRA
Updated: 11:36 PM PDT Jun 6, 2018
http://www.kcra.com/article/residents-sound-off-about-proposed-changes-to-yolo-causeway/21147806

Caltrans ready to expand Yolo Causeway, seeks public’s input*
By Max Resnik and Brandi Cummings, KCRA
Updated: 11:45 PM PDT Jun 6, 2018
http://www.kcra.com/article/caltrans-ready-to-expand-yolo-causeway-seeks-publics-input/21101820

*ECOS is mentioned in the fourth (and most recent) article

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