Apr 2011

Massive Counter-Attack Ends Brief Spring at MTC

In a blow to the very heart of the transportation planning process, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted today to preserve the longstanding dominance of local politics in the allocation of funds for transportation projects in the Bay Area. The shortage of funds due to the economic crisis had led MTC staff to propose a revision to the Commission’s Committed Projects Policy, so as to enable the MTC’s Regional Transportation Plan to be more effective. The policy essentially cemented in past project approvals, so that those decisions would never be reconsidered. Because MTC’s RTP process has been to staple together the wish lists of the various counties of the region, this has meant that project selection was primarily occurring at the local or county level.

The problem with this is that local solutions do not work when aggregated together at the regional scale. Local transportation plans assume that their residents will travel largely by automobile. However, when these residents leave their respective counties, it has not been possible to furnish adequate regional infrastructure. The extremely high cost of widening existing highways, along with the lack of physical space to do so without even more expensive condemnation of existing residences and businesses, has resulted in massive congestion throughout the region.

Briefs filed in HSR Challenge

Briefing has commenced in the challenge to the EIR for the High-Speed Rail connection between the Bay Area and the Central Valley. Plaintiffs filed their Opening Briefs today. The case has been divided into two parts: Atherton I is a continuation of the challenge to the 2008 EIR by the Town of Atherton, the City of Menlo Park, the Planning and Conservation League, the California Rail Foundation, and the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF). Atherton II is a new lawsuit challenging the legality of the revised EIR by the City of Palo Alto, the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail, Mid-Peninsula Residents for Civic Sanity, and Pat Giorni. The current schedule is that the two cases will be heard together on August 12 in Sacramento. The briefs are available here:
Atherton I
Atherton I (Declaration of Elizabeth Alexis)
Atherton II
Atherton II (CC-HSR)