You are currently viewing From Highways to Wholesome Communities, Reworking How California Invests in Transportation

From Highways to Wholesome Communities, Reworking How California Invests in Transportation

The Federal-Support Freeway Act of 1956 proposed the audacious aim of connecting the US with a 41,000 mile federal interstate system. Because the Freeway Act’s signing, California absolutely constructed out its interstate and state freeway system, increasing mobility entry for car-owners, stimulating financial improvement, and creating hundreds of jobs. However these advantages got here with unacceptable and avoidable prices.

From the Fifties to Seventies, freeway planners and decision-makers repeatedly selected low-income neighborhoods for the development of recent highways. The justification? These communities already confronted disinvestment and underdevelopment, in comparison with wealthier, whiter communities which had been extra prone to push again in opposition to the event of highways of their neighborhoods.

Because of this, freeway initiatives tore by way of the hearts of communities of coloration, bodily segregating low-income neighborhoods from rich ones, whereas displacing over 1,000,000 individuals. Along with burdening neighboring communities with larger charges of air pollution, these highways bodily impeded the entry of low-income communities of coloration to job alternatives, high quality training, and important assets like wholesome meals, exacerbating present inequities.

In California, proposed freeway enlargement initiatives proceed to display this structural racism is way from a factor of the previous. A beforehand deliberate enlargement of Interstate 710 between Lengthy Seashore and East LA would have displaced properties and elevated poisonous diesel air pollution in already overburdened neighborhoods. The venture was solely canceled in Could 2022 by LA Metro and Caltrans following many years of neighborhood organizing led by the Coalition for Environmental Well being and Justice.

Individually, community-based organizations in South Fresno have filed go well with in opposition to Caltrans and the Federal Freeway Administration in opposition to a different venture that might broaden and add site visitors to State Route 99, exacerbating environmental injustices and undermining state company efforts to fight these injustices. And simply final week, the California Transportation Fee accredited funding for greater than $600 million {dollars} in Caltrans-recommended initiatives that can additional broaden the state’s freeway community, producing extra air pollution and congestion that’s once more certain to position the heaviest burden on low-income communities of coloration. California wants sturdy infrastructure. However it might’t come on the expense of our communities.

California is lengthy overdue to overtake racist highway-building practices that exacerbate the nation’s worst air air pollution in predominantly low-income communities of coloration and undermine the state’s local weather targets. And as final week’s CTC funding approval demonstrates, present insurance policies aren’t altering precise funding outcomes. We’d like systemic options to deal with this systemic downside.

AB 1525: The Accelerating Communities by way of Transportation Act supposed to just do that. The Greenlining Institute, a racial fairness advocacy nonprofit, partnered with Meeting member Mia Bonta on the invoice. This laws would have required that at the least 60 % of transportation {dollars} go to initiatives benefiting deprived populations, in a means that might shift {dollars} away from dangerous freeway initiatives and in the direction of strolling, biking, and transit initiatives that might meet communities’ wants.

Regardless of overwhelming assist from advocates and neighborhood organizations, the laws, going through opposition from freeway teams, was held within the Meeting’s fiscal committee. The dying of this invoice and Assemblymember Bryan’s AB 2419 earlier than it, speaks to a bigger problem — an unwillingness to align public investments with fairness, local weather, and, most significantly, communities’ wants.

The injustices formed by our previous choices aren’t blueprints for our future. Sixty-seven years from the Federal-Support Freeway Act, it’s time we prioritize constructing a future the place communities can thrive with clear air, environment friendly public transit programs, secure bike lanes and sidewalks, and inexpensive, zero-emission car-sharing applications. If we achieve altering course, we are able to create high-road jobs—and doubtlessly extra of them—whereas spurring financial improvement that’s each sturdy and inclusive.

California reached its personal transportation milestone on the finish of June, as Governor Newsom signed the most important Caltrans price range to this point, with over $20 billion for transportation infrastructure. To construct the clear, equitable transportation system that Californians deserve, our state’s leaders ought to begin by committing to spend the cash we’ve now to deal with community-identified wants and priorities.

Republished from NRDC Knowledgeable Weblog. By Zak Accuardi, Senior Advocate, Transportation, Folks & Communities Program

This weblog was co-authored with Sara Noelani Olsen, a Local weather Fairness Coverage Fellow on the Greenlining Institute


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