Dave Druker | 10th Street
Caltrans and SANDAG have proposed that the I-5 freeway from La Jolla to Oceanside be widened up to 14 lanes. In “a shot across the bow,” Christine Kehoe, the State Senator representing Del Mar introduced Senate Bill 468. This bill demands that before any freeways are widened in the coastal zone of California, improvement to mass transit and local roads must be completed. As of mid-April the bill has passed the Natural Resources Committee and is on the way to the Transportation and Housing Committee in early May.
The usual suspects have lined up to oppose this bill. Their argument against this bill and for the widening of I-5 freeway eventually relies upon the need to reduce traffic congestion. Unfortunately, congestion relief is impossible. Every major city in the world no matter how great a transportation network and public transit system has congestion. Also up to 40% of congestion is caused by accidents and there is no way to stop accidents from happening. Actually, putting more cars and trucks on the freeway increases the chances of accidents happening. The widening of freeways provides a false sense that people can live further from places of work and get to work as quickly as if they lived closer, which induces more traffic. Finally, most people go to work during daylight hours so the roads are filled with commuters between 7AM and 9AM in the morning and 4PM and 7PM in the evening.
So why do our elected officials continue to pursue the false hope of congestion relief? Simply most are terrified that they will not be reelected and lose to a person who will promise that traffic congestion can be solved.
So what should our elected officials be doing? They need to provide alternatives to all of us so that we have a choice between getting into a car, taking a train or bus or joining a carpool if possible. For many people in San Diego, there is no alternative to the car. SB 468 is a glimmer in the usual politics of transportation funding.