April 25, 1990
Attn: Public Information
101 8th Street
Oakland, California 94607
Re: 1990 RTIP (aka Pork Barrel)
At your August, 1989 public hearing, I said that I had to date seen no evidence that MTC intends to carry out its obligations under the federal Clean Air Act, and help solve the Bay Area's air pollution problems. It is now exactly eight months later, and it is clearer than ever that MTC has no intention of obeying either the federal or state Clean Air Acts. The RTIP clearly demonstrates your committment to building more and bigger freeways and encouraging automobile users in every way possible.
You are proposing to widen I80, I82, I92, I101, I580, I680, and I880, create a freeway bypass on I101 in Cloverdale, and turn Routes 1, 4, 87, 37, 87, and 238 into freeways. Several expressways are proposed to be widened. This is in spite of the well-known fact that highway expansion encourages long-distance driving and worsens air pollution. (Some of the widenings are for "HOV" lanes, but this does not change the fact that they increase vehicle capacity and therefore worsen air quality.)
You propose to create several BART extensions that are not cost-effective (BART's technology is far more expensive than other rail systems, such as Caltrain). You propose several grade separations on Caltrain, which will serve mainly to make automobile use easier in those areas. The same goes for the "Access Improvements" (more parking?) at Fruitvale, Hayward, Walnut Creek, and Concord BART stations. These are an unbelievable waste of money! In exchange for yearly fares of approximately $1000, you are giving people a $2000-7000 parking space! Why do we have to bribe automobile users to ride BART? If anyone should be paid to ride BART, it should be walkers, bikers, and bus riders, not drivers. The same goes for the proposed Park and Ride Lots. Providing feeder bus service to BART would be vastly cheaper and environmentally preferable to expanding parking facilities. Land is far too valuable to be used to house cars.
How to explain all this? The only reason I can see is that you are trying to attract as many federal and state dollars as possible to the Bay Area. Do you know what the definition of a prostitute is? It is someone who exchanges his or her most valuable possessions (self-respect and good health) for money. In your case, you are selling the Bay Area's health and environment, to make a few bucks. Can you think of a better word for such people?
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.