Orange County Biz Council applauds CALTRANS effort to preserve sprawl

The Los Angeles area is infamous for sprawl, huge giga-highways, bad air conditions, and people stuck in gridlocked cars for hours at a time.  The success of the automobile as a transportation method has led to, in the U.S., a massive system of highways, cities designed for the benefit of car drivers, poor walkability conditions, and an obesity epidemic that may be because we cannot walk around our cities because they’re so unwalkable.

According to a press release issued by the Orange County Business Council, CALTRANS (California’s Transportation agency) announced a decision today to move forward with I-405 traffic improvement plan “Alternative 3”, adding new general purposes lanes promised under Orange County voter-approved Measure M, as well as new express lanes.

Their press release -below- talks about relieving congestion, and traffic speed improvements.

I wish to disagree.

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There was a time when those roads weren’t as crowded as they are today – where those roads were sufficient for the traffic of that time.  There’s two problems going on:  a) population increases, b) sprawl, a.k.a. a development pattern that discourages mass transit systems and encourages people to drive.

Because of increasing population there is naturally more people in the LA Area.  If the system continues encouraging cars as the primary transportation choice, then the LA Area will simply continue having bad traffic congestion problems.

Why is that?  It’s because cars are an inefficient use of road surface.  Because cars have to be so spread out to maintain safe following distance, you have one person every 50-100 feet of road surface.  A bus, on the other hand, would carry about 50 people on 50ish feet of road surface.  Trains carry even more people per unit of surface area.

It’s a land use problem – how many square miles of surface area have to be devoted to transporting people and objects around?  Cars on modern highways are an inefficient solution.

And CALTRANS is about to invest more in the inefficient system, build more roads, keeping people in their cars.

This money could instead have been used to build regional rail systems to connect Orange County residents with mass transit systems at the other end of the I-405 corridor.  Instead of beefing up the I-405, beef up the train system serving the same area.

OCBC AND LABOR COMMEND CALTRANS PLAN TO IMPROVE I-405

     ALTERNATIVE 3 KEEPS PROMISES TO OC VOTERS UNDER MEASURE M

IRVINE, Calif., (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Orange County
Business Council (OCBC) and the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building
and Construction Trades Council (LA/OC BCTC) jointly commend the
decision made by Caltrans today to move forward with I-405 traffic
improvement plan “Alternative 3”, adding new general purposes lanes
promised under Orange County voter-approved Measure M, as well as new
express lanes, on one of America’s busiest corridors. Alternative 3
reduces congestion by moving the most people and the most cars through
the corridor than any other plan. The express lanes would be built in
the future after funding is identified by Caltrans, but not with
Measure M funds. This decision authorizes OCTA to begin construction of
the general purpose lanes in 2015.

“As a longtime advocate for a Southern California express lane system,
OCBC commends the decision made by Caltrans today and encourages
continued coordination with OCTA and TCA to ensure efficiency of scarce
resources and tax dollars,” said Lucy Dunn, President and CEO, OCBC.
“We welcome a thoughtful express lane system that connects with
surrounding counties, including I-110, I-10 and SR-91 express lanes, as
well as South Orange County’s toll road system SR-261, 241 and 73. The
county’s future depends on a robust transportation network that
accommodates a growing population, a recovering economy, and a thriving
tourism industry.”

“Speaking for tens of thousands of skilled construction workers living
in Orange County, we welcome this forward-looking decision,” said Jim
Adams, Orange County Representative for the LA/OC BCTC. “This will
generate thousands of career-track jobs for the Building Trades; it
will also improve the quality of life for our families and neighbors by
streamlining transportation and adding new options.”

OCTA’s own comprehensive study evaluating options to alleviate
congestion on the freeway recognized Alternative 3 as the fastest, most
cost-efficient option. Adding express lanes, in addition to free lanes,
is projected to allow about 2,300 more vehicles an hour than if just
adding one free lane in each direction. Travel times through the
corridor are also expected to be reduced by up to 28 minutes in general
lanes, and estimated 13 minutes in the express lanes. The project has
the potential to generate upwards of 27,000 California jobs, while
potentially adding a self-sustaining funding source for future mobility
improvements benefiting Orange County and the I-405 corridor.

About OCBC:

Orange County Business Council is the leading voice of business in
Orange County, California. OCBC represents and promotes the business
community, working with government and academia, to enhance Orange
County’s economic development and prosperity in order to preserve a
high quality of life. OCBC serves member and investor businesses with
nearly 250,000 employees and 2,000,000 worldwide. In providing a
proactive forum for business and supporting organizations, OCBC helps
assure the financial growth of America’s sixth largest county. For more
information, visit www.ocbc.org.

About the LA/OC BCTC:

The Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades
Council represents 140,000 skilled construction workers in 48 local
unions and district councils. The Council’s locals offer lifelong
careers, with competitive pay, good benefits and secure retirement, for
those who want a bright future without attending college. The Building
Trades apprenticeships serve thousands of diverse Orange County
residents in fields such as electrical work, roofing, sheet metal,
heavy equipment operating, plumbing, pipe fitting, iron work, cement
masonry, plastering, insulation, demolition, painting, floor laying,
glazing and elevator construction.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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