Measure 2022: words have meaning

A group calling themselves A Committee for a Better Sacramento is sponsoring a citizen-initiated ballot measure for the November election, titled “Sacramento County Transportation Maintenance, Safety, and Congestion Relief Act of 2022—Retail Transactions and Use Tax”. (Note: Some people are referring to this as Measure A, but measure letters are assigned by county elections, not by the sponsors. I’ll continue to refer to it as Measure 2022, for now.)

As your parents no doubt told you, words have meaning. So what are the words used in the proposed measure?

  • congestion (in the context of congestion relief) = 24 occurrences
  • greenhouse gas = 6
  • climate = 3
  • low-income = 3
  • community engagement (only in Exhibit B ITOC) = 1
  • equity = 0

A major purpose of this measure is to fund capacity expansion, in an effort to provide congestion relief. But it is well documented and uncontroversial (except among greenfield developers and engineers whose jobs depend on expansion) that attempts to relieve congestion through expansion actually induce new traffic that fills every bit of added capacity. The sponsors of this measure do not believe that. They refuse to believe that. This is a 1970s version of transportation investment, that time when the only issue was building infrastructure that would allow cars to go further and faster. Walking, bicycling, and transit was either an afterthought, or actively discriminated against. We don’t live in those times any more, but the sponsors still do.

Search for category Measure 2022 to see posts as they are added.

HOV lanes solution

So, given that new HOV lanes do not reduce congestion, and in fact induce demand and increase vehicle miles traveled (VMT), what is the solution? I suggest the following policy:

HOV lanes will not be added to any freeway by the construction of new lanes. If, in the judgement of Caltrans or other agencies, a HOV lane is desirable, an existing general travel lane(s) may be converted to some sort of HOV or tolled status. This only applies to freeways with three or more lanes existing. Existing general purpose lanes may also be converted to transit-only lanes or dedicated to rail use. It is well known that additional lanes of any sort will induce additional traffic, which is directly contrary to state goals to reduce carbon emissions and vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

This could be implemented as a 10-year moritorium rather than a permanent policy, as I think that within 10 years the folly of adding lanes to freeways will be clear to everyone, even Caltrans. 


Note: when I wrote the preceding post and this one, I was aware that ECOS (Environmental Council of Sacramento) was working on a lawsuit against Caltrans over the project to add carpool lanes, as additional newly constructed lanes, to Highway 50. That suit has now been been filed.