Transportation is supposed to help us get from one place to another. But for many Californians, our transportation system instead creates huge barriers – to health, safety, opportunity, and more.
Our transportation system is a barrier to health when kids get asthma from tailpipe pollution because there are too many cars on the road, and no other options. It’s a barrier to safety when a family has no sidewalks between their home and their school. And it’s a barrier to opportunity when getting to work requires you to own a car and pay for gas – or spend hours on insufficient public transportation.
These barriers are worst in low-income communities and communities of color, where transportation officials have been more likely to build highways that divide and pollute neighborhoods, and less likely to build sidewalks, bike lanes, and reliable public transportation.
We didn’t arrive at this transportation system by mistake. Instead, there’s a long history of making choices to prioritize car travel and wealthier communities over the needs of California’s most vulnerable.
We’ve seen our leaders begin to shift their thinking in the realm of sustainability, and make sure our climate investments benefit all Californians. But they have not done the same with the much larger pots of money used to maintain and expand our roads and highways.
The Governor’s budget includes a $16.2 billion plan for the state’s transportation needs, with $3.2 billion in proposed new revenue. Unfortunately, the Governor’s transportation plan is business as usual, at the expense of public health and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The $3.2 billion in proposed new funding replicates the Governor’s plan introduced in August last year during the transportation special session. The majority of those funds will go towards repaving roads and expanding trade corridors, doing little to expand active transportation and advance transportation mode shift. Details of the proposal include:
The Active Transportation Program (ATP) is a statewide competitive grant program that promotes bicycling and walking conditions with infrastructure improvements and encouragement programs. The ATP prioritizes projects that target safety for children traveling to school (Safe Routes to School grants) and improve streets and sidewalks for residents of disadvantaged communities as defined on page 8 of the ATP guidelines. Examples of these projects include fixing sidewalks, adding raised crosswalks, installing flashing signage at intersections, and creating bike lanes or paths. In 2015, the California Transportation Commission will approve $360 million in grants to communities across the state. The call for projects will be released on March 26 and the deadline to apply for funding is June 1, 2015.