Highway 101 Expansion EIR Comments Due January 19

Highway 101. Photo: Paul Chinn

San Mateo County’s plan to widen 14 miles of Highway 101 from 8 to 10 lanes with new toll lanes reaches a critical milestone in just one week on Friday January 19, when public comments on the project’s draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be received. Send an email to sm101DEIR_EA_comments@dot.ca.gov. Caltrans planners must address every single public comment submitted in response letters included in the final EIR, which the agency hopes to finish by Fall 2018.

The draft EIR for the “Highway 101 Managed Lanes Project” makes numerous false assumptions designed to favor a specific alternative – to install new toll lanes in each direction, called Express Lanes, by widening the highway to ten lanes. San Mateo County can still instead choose to install the Express Lanes by converting existing general purpose lanes, which would save a whopping $400 million that could be invested in express bus service, shuttles, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Instead, SamTrans will ask us to vote for another 0.5 percent sales tax increase for transportation “improvements”. The money will be used to relieve congestion by widening Highway 101. Wait what? SamTrans which has been cutting bus service for over two decades says trust us on fixing traffic congestion? SamTrans, Out Of Service.

You have the opportunity to express yourself. The Environmental Impact Analysis is taking comments through Jan 18th of 2018. Prepare your comment letters!

email to: sm101DEIR_EA_comments@dot.ca.gov Tell the bureaucrats not to waste money on futile highway expansion projects that only invite even more car traffic. You intend to vote NO on SamTrans Highway Sales Tax on November 6, 2018 so that your tax dollars are not wasted. We do not want more wall to wall asphalt choked in the fumes of the car commute.

Samtrans says this time the highway expansion will be different. This time they will use our sales tax dollars to build new toll lanes – you have the option of buying your way into a moving lane or staying in traffic. The draft EIR even admits that congestion will worsen in the un-tolled lanes, in some cases significantly. But Los Angeles and other major cities have already proven that there is tremendous congestion even after toll lanes are installed. Gridlock follows a few years later. Billions of dollars later we  end up in the same congested mess – only with even more of us stuck in traffic. SamTrans could start getting it’s act together by studying the failure of managed lanes in other parts of the state.

Bureaucrats have spent 40 years building congestion of magnanimous proportions. You have the opportunity by January 19 to tell them to reduce traffic instead of expanding freeways. They need to provide us with alternatives – buses, bicycling, and walking improvements. When you say NO to the SamTrans Sales Tax in November you will force them to accept real solutions. That’s what happened in Alameda County in 2015 and in Contra Costa County in 2016. After receiving a NO from voters the bureaucrats went back to the drawing board with some new talent for a more believable plan.

For life beyond congestion, vote NO on November 6 and tell the bureaucrats you won’t pay for failed highway expansions once again! We need real alternatives to driving that actually work.