It is moving to ban the construction of freeways in most of the state and instead diverting billions of dollars towards it.
To achieve racial equality as well as climate goals.
This week, the Assembly Transportation Committee passed a bill that targets areas with lower standards of living.
Healthy Places Index
, which measures standards like healthcare, housing, education, and more. Only the San Francisco Bay, Sacramento, as well as most coastal communities were rated highly.
Cristina Garcia, a Los Angeles Democrat who is the author of Bill, said that creating new freeways was racist because it would force low-income residents out of their homes. Garcia stated Monday that these residents must live in these areas because it is what they can afford.
Los Angeles appears to be the target of the bill.
One day is spent on the freeways.
Analysis of A.B. 1778
Because freeways were built through black and brown communities, the government claims that it is working to address inequalities through environmental justice. Los Angeles County is 250% more polluted than the San Francisco Bay Area, and minorities are more exposed than white Californians to air pollution.
Garcia stated in his analysis that it is a scandalous and criminal act to use state resources in order to displace and choke communities like mine. However, the data and research clearly indicate that this practice is another example of the systemic racism that is ingrained in our policies.
While freeway expansion projects may be promoted as a way of reducing congestion, research has shown that they actually increase congestion by encouraging drivers to drive more, which in turn increases harmful emission. Data also shows that these projects tend to displace low income communities of color who are already living in poverty.
Two Democratic committee members opposed the bill, despite it passing 8-3. Their constituents have been able to benefit from the largest freeway widening project in the state, which began at Long Beach and will end in southern Orange County.
The $2 billion expansion of the I-405 freeway began in 2018. It will take two more years to complete. It was funded mainly through a half-cent sales taxes increase approved by Orange County voters. It will add 16 lane miles to an already congested freeway.
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Two members of the committee from the area wondered if the bill would be passed if state taxes contributed $90million to the project. When questioned by Democrat Tom Daly about these details, Garcia didn’t know.
Districts benefit from it
His constituents, who make up the minority group in the bill’s title, overwhelmingly supported improvements to a different freeway. Daly stated that the state already had a pollution control law. Then he asked: What specifics are available for those who were promised something and then reneged on it?
Garcia replied, “I don’t know if they were promised any.”
Laurie Davies, Republican and representative of an area close to Orange and San Diego counties asked what would happen with the local taxes already collected.
She said that one size does not fit all. My district doesn’t have rail access. It’s not like big cities.
California’s transportation system is responsible for more than $30 billion in annual federal, state and local taxes. This includes the controversial
51-cent gas tax
. The gas tax is supposed be used to maintain freeways and not for expansion. However, California voters have previously passed increases for freeway and ramp expansion.
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As congestion gets worse, many projects in Los Angeles are still being worked on. It takes two hours to travel 30 miles through Los Angeles. Cars are also stuck on side streets, waiting for traffic light rotations before they can enter onramps.