Two California bills would put the climate in the fast lane

When President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, he ensured that billions of dollars in transportation funding would come to California to modernize and clean up our transportation system. Two bills would help the state prioritize climate and equity in our mobility investments across California.

Los Angeles transit could benefit from two bills to speed up climate-friendly transportation.

Photo via Los Angeles County Subway

This spring, I wrote about an important warning from the California Strategic Growth Council: the state’s transportation spending often runs counter to its climate goals and slows our progress toward creating a zero transportation system. show that works for all Californians. On top of that, many state-funded highway projects are contributing to increased vehicle pollution in already overcrowded communities.

How? The state continues to invest in freeway projects that encourage more driving at a time when we need to provide residents with clean alternatives to driving, such as intercity rail, transit, bike lanes and trails. pedestrians – at the same time we are working to ensure that the remaining vehicles are zero emissions.

Fortunately, two key bills are moving forward that would help get California back on track, and we urge the legislature to vote in favor of both.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s AB 1778 would prohibit the use of state funding and resources to build or expand highways in communities already burdened with pollution and public health impacts.

This bill would end some of the most egregious planned highways, transforming the state away from a legacy of neighborhood destruction and displacement caused by transportation infrastructure projects. We could then begin to direct our transportation investments toward healthy, clean mobility that meets community priorities and improves neighborhood access to social and economic opportunities.

AB 2438 from Assemblywoman Laura Friedman would require the state to update its transportation funding programs to align with its climate goals.

Even today, many state investments in transportation are guided by outdated rules and ill-conceived legacy projects that prioritize moving vehicles over helping people get around without the financial burden and environmental impact of car ownership and traffic congestion. Four years ago, the California Air Resources Board noted that “California would still need to reduce [driving] 25% per capita to achieve the reductions needed by 2030” to meet its statutory climate targets, in addition to the aggressive deployment of electric vehicles.

AB 2438 would help shift our funding priorities to ensure projects such as electric rail, transit, bicycling, and walking are top of the line for state funding, while creating jobs well paid in the construction, maintenance and operation of our transportation system. .

Both bills are pending in the California Assembly, and we urge all members of the Assembly to support these bills to advance a transportation system that supports good jobs and affordable, equitable mobility.

Bernard P. Love