Mindlessly Wider

I was very pleased to read The Independent‘s February 9, 2017, article, “Where’s the Train?” about the efforts of Scott Spaulding to bring commuter rail service to the Santa Barbara area. Public transportation is much needed to help prevent Santa Barbara from becoming the next overbuilt, traffic-snarled, crime-ridden Los Angeles. The fastest way to turn Santa Barbara into another L.A. is to keep mindlessly widening Highway 101. By making it easier to commute on Highway 101, more motorists will naturally do so; within a very short time there will again be quick-fix discussions about the urgent need to remedy our traffic problems by again widening Highway 101.

Many traffic studies, including UC Davis’ Institute of Transportation Studies’ 2015 traffic report, that states “transportation experts have repeatedly found that building new roads encourages more people to drive, which in turn negates any congestion savings (from adding highway lanes) — a phenomenon known as ‘induced demand,’” discuss this.

Ask anyone who regularly commutes on L.A.’s traffic-snarled, 10-lane Interstate 5 whether adding additional lanes in 2010 eased traffic congestion. They will unanimously tell you that it has not.

The answer to easing traffic congestion is not by adding more freeway lanes but by improving public transportation services, designating car pool lanes, and adding bike and pedestrian lanes. Santa Barbara’s environmental community for decades has pressed for slow, planned growth to prevent this predictable traffic nightmare from occurring. However, with every new strip mall, subdivision, and apartment complex built under the banner of “creating jobs and growing the economy” comes the very predictable outcome of traffic congestion. I hope that the citizens of Santa Barbara will continue to support Scott Spaulding’s efforts to bring commuter rail to Santa Barbara.

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