State Senator John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, has introduced Senate Bill 319, which would add two lanes each to the north- and south-bound lanes of the I-5 and Highway 99 — these lanes would have no upper speed limit. This would put Sacramento, Fresno, Merced and Modesto on a short list of cities that hold the title of no speed limit that was previously solely known to the infamous German Autobahn.
While there has been strong opposition to the bill, with critics citing fatalities and an insignificant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that supporters of the bill have been pedaling as the strongest point for the bill, the proposition has numerous upsides that are not limited to tourism from grease monkeys.
In 2015, construction began on the high-speed rail proposed by California lawmakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce traffic strain and offer quick; efficient transportation for the previously stated areas.
Four years later, not only has construction stalled, but a November 2018 California State Auditor’s report on the High-Speed Rail Authority found that the authority has secured $12,700,000,000 of the estimated $77,300,000,000 that represents the total cost of the high-speed rail system, which is projected to be completed in 2033. The report further found deficiencies in planning, contract management, policy enforcement, and goal monitoring, for which the auditor made recommendations.
With no end in sight for the ineptly managed rail system, lawmakers must resolve the problems that persist for a growing population that has seen nothing but growing strain in the points of contention the rail was introduced to relieve.
Supporters of the bill argue that adding two extra lanes of high-speed traffic would have a large impact and reduce the congestion frequenting the greater Sacramento area. While also reducing greenhouse emissions that skyrocket by cars sitting idle in traffic.
While misguided logic would guess that a car that is not moving would produce less emissions than a car burning down the highway at 90 MPH, engines can function more efficiently at higher rates of speed to an extent, as keeping a car moving at a high speed is relatively easy for an engine. Compare this to the struggle of an engine to move a two to four ton car a few feet every 30 seconds and it makes sense why traffic yields higher greenhouse emission rates.
Still, opponents of the Bill proposed by Senator Moorlach raised concern over the potential fatalities and accidents on highway 99, which has already been dubbed one of the most dangerous highways in America. Yet, one need not look farther than the 2008 Purdue University report that found “that raising the speed limit on an interstate highway in Indiana had not increased the probability of fatalities or serious injuries.”
Even when looking at the German Autobahn, infamous for carrying no speed limit, the International Road Traffic and Accident Database show the incredible safety of the road compared to the rest of the world.
“A person yearly traversing 15,000 kilometres (9,300 mi) on regular roads and 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) on motorways has an approximately 1 in 11,000 chance of dying in a car accident on a German road in any particular year (1 in 57,000 on an autobahn), compared to 1 in 3,800 in Czech Republic, 1 in 17,000 in Denmark, or 1 in 7,200 in the United States.” stated the IRTAD.
Not only would the proposed highway and freeway expansion be a simple, cheap and safe alternative to an ill devised railway system, but it would be a tourist destination for a state with an expansive car scene.
Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Silicon Valley and of course Westlake High School’s Student Lot. California is a state known for its’ vast exotic and performance car network. Adding a freeway and highway that has no speed limit and runs through poorer areas such as Merced and Modesto could offer a significant boost to an area with little to offer.
Gas taxes, shops, food options and all the little things to boost a small city’s economy could be opened up by the proposed Senate Bill. This way, the state could enrich communities instead of stripping their tax dollars for an overblown project that could never benefit these rural areas the way this bill could.
Overall, the Senate Bill 319 must be passed into effect to lessen the environmental strain on these areas and offer an economic upturn without compromising safety or straining citizens tax dollars.