Capitol Alert

Report confirms California’s traffic gridlock

In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 photo, late morning traffic travels on Interstate 5, in Los Angeles. In California, I-5 in Los Angeles County is the most congested route, according to the California Department of Transportation.
In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 photo, late morning traffic travels on Interstate 5, in Los Angeles. In California, I-5 in Los Angeles County is the most congested route, according to the California Department of Transportation. AP

As the Capitol’s debate over raising money to fix California’s dilapidated roadways heats up, a new report from Texas A&M University declares that the state’s motorists put up with some of the nation’s worst traffic congestion.

Six of the nation’s 10 most congested roadways are in the Los Angeles-Orange County region, the university’s Transportation Institute concluded.

The region also has the nation’s second worst overall gridlock level, behind No. 1 Washington, with the San Francisco Bay Area third worst, San Jose fifth worst and the Riverside-San Bernardino area No. 10.

The report includes state-by-state and region-by-region data on congestion.

The Texas A&M data are being cited by advocates of raising gas taxes or other revenues for highway work. “Increased congestion another reason lawmakers need to fix crumbling roads,” reads a paper that the California Alliance for Jobs, a highway construction pressure group, issued on Wednesday as the report was issued.

However, it’s doubtful whether the money the organization and other groups want to be raised would, in fact, be used to relieve congestion.

Gov. Jerry Brown says he wants funds to repair existing roadways, not add congestion-reducing capacity to the highway system. In fact, a new transportation plan drafted by his administration specifically excludes adding carrying capacity to the system with the goal of reducing vehicular traffic and reducing carbon emissions.

Brown wants the Legislature to pass Senate Bill 350, which calls for reducing petroleum use in cars by 50 percent by 2030.

Brown, however, has not been specific on what the Legislature should do to raise roadway repair money, and the Capitol itself, is in gridlock over the issue because tax increases would require at last some Republican votes. So far they haven’t materialized.

  Comments