Caltrans failure to do corridor wide EIR negated transit, wastes billions and did not call out cut thru impacts
by Alan Hirsch, Yolo Mobility
Transit works best as a network- you won’t get transit ridership if you just build just 1 or 5 miles of light rail, or upgrade just a few miles of Amtrak to 100mph service. You need to have interconnected regional system, especially with our dispersed land use patterns.
Below is a Caltrans map from the long-hidden corridor plan, the “I-80 CMCP” shows the many widenings has planned or started in the I-80 Corridor. These types of corridor plans, first required by SB1 (2017) reveal for the first time “piece-mealing” of freeway widening, I.E., breaking a corridor widening into many small separate projects. Each separate project is studied separately thru alternative analysis/EIR process so to assure transit alternative are small stand-and never pencil. And many of project are so small they don’t even require at EIR.
If fact, this is why piece-mealing is a violation of California Environmental Law. It has been cited by many others including a recent hi level whistleblower as how Caltrans systematically gets around environmental laws designed to address climate change.
The corridor plan for I-80 (I-80 CMCP) was not released to public on Caltrans website until May of 2023, over 9 months after the Yolo80 EIR alternative were selected. In fact, this corridor plan did compare transit vs highway alternatives. It concluded upgrading the Capitol Corridor Rail service to 100 MPH is 15x more cost effective to move people than the entire bundle of freeway widening shown on map (see Vanguard article).
With many of the widening construction already are underway, one can wonder how many billions (with a B) of dollars in taxpayer money are being poorly spend because of this setup by Caltrans to preordain a result ? What sort of set back does this represent on meeting the state climate plan that required us to reduce driving and well as shift to electric cars to reduce our GHG’s.
One can also note the Yolo causeway “bottle neck” and cut thru traffic in Davis did not just happen: it was created by Caltrans by widening freeway to the west and it impact on Davis section of I-80 s shown clearly in traffic studies.
As for collaboration with communities in the developing corridor plans, a public record request of Yolobus/Yolo TD found no records in its files it was involved in developing the plan, and Caltrans has never presented the final or preliminary report or involved YoloTD board or Davis City or its Commissions in its development in a substantive way. Yet Caltrans lists these entities, as well as citizens groups like Bike Davis as involved with its development. Caltrans neglect of considering community impact is shown by Caltrans failure to list “reduce cut thru traffic” as a goal/purpose/need for their proposed Causeway widening on its project website.
SAVE THE DATE: A Freeway Teach-In Nov 8th
Davis Futures Forum on the Future of the I-80 Corridor
Wed, Nov 8th 7:00-8:30 Davis Community Church Fellowship Hall, 412 C street
I-80 traffic congestion is frustrating even the most patient among us! The Caltrans proposed solution has been to increase the number of traffic lanes, however many Davis citizens have expressed strong opposition noting the need for transportation alternatives. Further, a high level Caltrans executive has accused her peers of violating environmental laws by underestimating the negative impacts of the proposal. And research at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies shows that attempts to address congestion by adding lanes only works for a short time before the lanes are filled again by new drivers.
What is the solution? The public is invited to explore this question at a Davis Futures Forum talk and panel discussion. The keynote speaker is Professor Susan Handy, the renowned head of the National Center for Sustainable Development. Her presentation will be followed by a diverse response panel who will give us their thoughts about how best to move forward. The event will be held Wednesday, Nov 8th at 7pm in at the Davis Community Church. Please sign up in advance and you will receive advance material, a link to the real-time zoom and YouTube recording of the teach-in.