Last week, CALPIRG released its annual Highway Boondoggles report. The report details the way our nation’s policymakers continue to prioritize major highway expansion projects, while failing to spend the money needed to repair our crumbling infrastructure.
“[Y]ear after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and key transportation priorities.”
– CALPIRG Highway Boondoggles 5, 2019
The biggest California boondoggle highlighted in this report is the High Desert Freeway in Los Angeles County. The High Desert Freeway will connect Lancaster in eastern LA County with Apple Valley in San Bernardino County, encouraging more suburban sprawl and more car-dependent communities. It is slated to cost $8 billion.
Imagine how much could be achieved by putting that $8 billion toward expanding and upgrading transit options for Los Angeles. Or repairing crumbling city streets while adding protected bike lanes.
At a time when California needs to put all its resources and ingenuity into creating a carbon-free future, new highway construction puts this progress in reverse. There is no environmental argument for freeway construction. CalBike will be keeping a close eye on this ill-advised freeway project as it moves forward. We plan to fight hard to make California’s top priority equitable and environmentally sound transportation options.
CalBike continues to hold state leaders accountable to the priorities of reduced greenhouse gases and clean air, so we can build truly healthy communities. We believe that our state’s highway expansions are expensive, increase the state’s debt, don’t solve congestion, and of course damage our environment and the communities where we all live. Historically, big freeway projects cause the most damage in low-income communities of color, which are also disproportionately impacted by increased driving.
CalBike will lead a new campaign in the coming months that analyzes where the State of California is misusing our transportation funds on new highway expansion. This misdirection of funds keeps California from meeting state goals that have been recently identified, and which we’re far behind in achieving. Your voice will be instrumental to this work, so please stay tuned for more information.