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Environmental Issus With Highway Expansion

Environmental Issus With Highway Expansion Gloria Stovall November 13, 2000 Sect: John Gulick Expansion of Highway 101 Since Highway 101 was completed in the early 1960s, no improvements or changes have been made and the highway has not been touched. Recently California transportation planners gave the final approval to the first expansion of Highway 101 in Santa Rosa. This raises some serious issues within the community. Although the planners have agreed to this change, members in the community have disagreements. The changes proposed consist of adding a carpool lane in both directions between Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park. There are issues raised with this proposal. Adding lanes to both sides of the highway will widen it, taking out trees and habitats of the area.

If these trees are removed, homes of animals such as squirrels, birds and insects will be destroyed. As the lane widens, this allows for more cars to pass through. Cars are somewhat detrimental to the environment. They cause pollution in society that is ever growing. All the affects of the lane expansion lead to another. Gloria Stovall November 13, 2000 Sect: John Gulick When the lanes are added, more cars pass through the area, as was already said.

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With the increase in cars, it will undoubtedly lead to an increase in population. More people will travel through Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa and see what nice neighborhoods are there. However, these areas dont have very much room for expansion. The cities themselves are quite full and would not be able to support a quickly growing population. In 1990, the population of Santa Rosa was at 158,352.

Since then the population has tripled. With such large growth, the area has become more congested and therefore so has the highway traffic. Even though the population in the area has grown a considerable amount in the last ten years, there is not a significant amount of room for more in the future. It has taken nearly ten years for CalTrans to get to this point and it is still in progress of trying succeed in the expansion. Gloria Stovall November 13, 2000 Sect: John Gulick Over the past decade, there have been a number of attempts to expand this area of the highway. In fact, CalTrans is still in the process of obtaining permits from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board that are required before it can proceed.

Construction has been delayed many times in the process. Construction was originally set to begin October 1st of this year but has been pushed back to January 1st of 2001. Wright, a member of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority says, Its not a big deal. Its just a matter of going through the governmental process when asked about the delay. In addition to the environmental issues with the expansion, there are other reasons why citizens in the area do not want this to happen. One reason is the rise in sales taxes for transportation. A factor that many commuters will not be happy with is the fact that it is expected to take 18 months to complete the 4.8 miles of carpool lanes, sound walls, traffic metering lights and Gloria Stovall November 13, 2000 Sect: John Gulick improvements on several entrance ramps.

It will be somewhat of an inconvenience. It will most likely slow down traffic for the 18 months during the construction and cause many unhappy commuters. Although there will be a delay with the beginning of the construction, Wright said that CalTrans officials expect to have the project completed by its original target date of February of 2002. During the eighteen months of construction there will more than likely be a big inconvenience for those who travel Highway 101 on a regular basis. Commuters will have to deal with slow traffic through the area. Another point that people of the community arent looking forward to is the price of the project.

The entire thing will cost $23 million and will not be something that many want to pay for. In the past, provisions were sought to lower the threshold for raising sales taxes for transportation but this failed. Despite the Gloria Stovall November 13, 2000 Sect: John Gulick fact that four local tax measures to widen Highway 101 failed in the 1990s, the money has been earmarked for the project will come from state and federal gas taxes. Voters have rejected sales taxes for expanding Highway 101 and mass transit which leaves the county at a disadvantage competing with eighteen other counties that have local transportation taxes to augment state and federal money. Some local officials hope that seeing the car pool lane project will make voters more enthusiastic about raising sales taxes for transportation funding.

At this point, there has been no such luck with this. Each time there is a new proposition for the sales taxes, voters vote against it, leaving transportation with low funding for the construction. Even though transportation money is not coming from sales taxes and doesnt look to be soon, late negotiations on Governor Gray Davis five-year $5.3 billion transportation plan did produce an additional $17 million for Highway 101. Environmental Issues.


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