March 24, 1989
Rod Diridon, Supervisor
County of Santa Clara
70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, California 95110
Re: 3/22/89 RTIP Hearing
Someone said that public officials nowadays spend 2/3 of their time defending their actions, and only 1/3 actually doing something. I find it hard to understand why, after my testimony on the RTIP, you found it necessary to attempt to defend tho MTC's actions, which are, frankly indefensible.
You stated that Caltrans's freeway expansion program, which is increasing the number of lanes on local freeways by 25 to 100 percent (in the case of I-80 and SR237, respectively), is "not increasing capacity". Would you please clarify what you meant by that?
You also stated that free-flowing traffic causes less air pollution. Expanding a freeway does far more than smoothe existing traffic. It also induces growth in VMT (vehicle miles travelled), which turns out to have a much greater effect in worsening air pollution than any possible benefit from speeding up traffic. I have given the MTC copies of current research papers proving this point, but in case you missed them, I am enclosing another copy of P.W.G. Newman, J.R. Kenworthy, and T.J Lyons's excellent 1988 Search paper, "Does Free-Flowing Traffic Save Energy and Lower Emissions in Cities?"
The bottom line is that none of the rationalizations used to justify further expansion of the freeway system holds water. Yes, we need a gas tax, but not to continue this obsolete and counterproductive policy. The only transportation measure that can provide what we need, without destroying the environment on which all life depends, is the rapid substitution of rail transit for our outmoded automobile-dependent culture.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.