Colorado’s Bold New Approach to Highways: Not Building Them

California has a battle going on in transportation planning. The Air Resources Board has determined that a major reduction in VMT is required to reduce the state’s emissions. Caltrans, on the other hand, is continuing to push highway expansions. See:

Newsom vs Newsom. Air Board, Caltrans clash on 80/50 widening plan. Who is in charge?

The environmental wing of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is telling its transportation wing that it has failed to properly analyze the proposed widening of Highways 50 and 80 between Sacramento and Solano counties, a potential death blow to this version of the project.

In a blistering commentary of the California Department of Transportation’s review of its Yolo Corridor Improvement Project, the California Air Resources Board says Caltrans underestimated greenhouse gas emissions and overstated the benefits of adding a lane each way for carpools and single-occupancy vehicle paying tolls. More importantly, CARB noted that Caltrans failed to even analyze a the plan by the Sacramento region’s transportation planning agency to convert existing lanes into carpool/toll lanes, a move it had previously told CARB was essential to reducing local emissions.

Four environmental organizations have filed challenges to the proposed I-80 widening of the Yolo Causeway. See Sierra Club’s Press Release.

The Los Angeles Times offered an earlier editorial on the internal fight in the state: California’s transportation spending doesn’t match its climate promises

California leaders talk a good game on fighting climate change. But when it comes to cutting the state’s biggest source of planet-warming emissions — cars, trucks, airplanes and other modes of transportation — the spending doesn’t match the rhetoric.

All of that pales in comparison to the bold moves made by the State of Colorado.

… the Transportation Commission of Colorado adopted a formal rule that makes the state transportation agency, along with Colorado’s five metropolitan planning organizations, demonstrate how new projects, including highways, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If they don’t, they could lose funding.

Within a year of the rule’s adoption in 2021, Colorado’s Department of Transportation had canceled two major highway expansions, including I-25, and shifted $100 million to transit projects. In 2022, a regional planning body in Denver reallocated $900 million from highway expansions to so- called multimodal projects, including faster buses and better bike lanes.

See the full story: Colorado’s Bold New Approach to Highways: Not Building Them

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