Marin-Sonoma HOV Lanes

TRANSDEF has been vocal for years that widening the highway between Novato and Petaluma would have the following negative impacts on Marin and Sonoma Counties:

  1. It would bring more traffic to Marin, after the County has spent over $150 million to remedy the many years of severe congestion.
  2. It would encourage development in Sonoma to continue the pattern of suburban expansion, which will lead to ever more residents being dependent on their cars for basic mobility.
  3. It will encourage residents to continue their habit of long-distance driving, thereby endangering the State's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. It will encourage residents to continue believing that driving will remain as the primary means of longer distance transport.
  5. It will hamper the effectiveness of a transition to using transit, including passenger rail, for longer distance travel.
  6. It will consume vast financial resources, without offering any long-term congestion relief (i.e., it will just clog up again in a few years.)

Caltrans is planning to spend between $600 and $800 million to widen the 16 miles of highway between Novato and Petaluma. By contrast, that same amount of money could build and operate 70+ miles of commuter rail connecting the downtowns of the cities of the 101 Corridor. Rail would make it possible to accommodate planned future growth in a way that would be far less damaging to the environment.

In this time of global warming, when more greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks than from any other source, does it make any sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to encourage more driving?

TRANSDEF filed extensive comments on the
Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the Marin-Sonoma Narrows HOV Widening Project.

Links to Our Comments
Our Primary Comments
Our Attorney's Comments

Links to the Attachments to Our Comments
Our Transportation Modelling Expert's Comments
“Real-World CO2 Impacts of Traffic Congestion”, Barth & Boriboonsomsin, November 2007
(later published as
Matthew Barth and Kanok Boriboonsomsin, “Real-World CO2 Impacts of Traffic Congestion,”
Transportation Research Record, Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2058, Transportation Research Board,
National Academy of Science, 2008
Letter from TRANSDEF’s Attorney to Caltrans’ Susan Simpson, June 15, 2001
Letter from TRANSDEF’s Attorney to Caltrans’ Will Kempton, October 19, 2006
Letter from TRANSDEF’s Attorney to Caltrans’ Will Kempton, December 18, 2006
Calthorpe Study “Preferred Scenario Final Report”, June 1997
“Why Are the Roads So Congested”, Surface Transportation Policy Project, November 1999

The controversy described above became a lawsuit when Caltrans certified its Environmental Impact Report for this project. See
HOV Lawsuit page.