California is fighting yet another nonsensical battle, outlawing the construction of new freeway lanes, and the reason is beyond asinine. In essence, putting tax dollars into new lanes of highway is both racist and not green.
That’s because the money could be going towards “green projects” that achieve both “racial equality and climate goals” reports The Washington Examiner. This week the Assembly Transportation Committee passed a bill that targets areas with a lower standard of living on the Healthy Places Index.
The bill’s author, Cristina Garcia, also a Los Angeles Democrat, says creating new freeways is racist because it displaces low-income residents from their homes. Garcia said in the committee hearing Monday, that the residents live in those areas because it’s all they can afford.
The Healthy Places Index measures “standards such as healthcare, housing, and education.” However, only “the San Francisco Bay area, Sacramento, and most coastal communities rated highly.”
Analysis of the bill claims it is “addressing inequities through environmental justice” because freeways were mapped through black and brown communities after WWII. Therefore, minority communities are exposed to more air pollution caused by vehicles than white Californians.
“It is outrageous and feels criminal to use state resources to choke and displace communities like mine when the data and research clearly show that this practice is just another example of the systemic racism that is normalized in our policies and practices,” Garcia stated.
The Washington Examiner reports on the history of the highway expansion:
Although the bill passed 8-3 along party lines, it was not supported by two Democratic committee members who abstained. Their constituents have benefited from the state’s largest ongoing freeway widening project that started at the Long Beach border and will end in southern Orange County.
The $2 billion widening of the I-405 freeway started in 2018 and will take another two years to complete. It was funded mostly by a half-cent sales tax increase approved by Orange County voters and will create 16 new lane miles on a freeway that is among the most congested in the nation.
State taxes contributed $90 million to the project, and two committee members from that area wondered if it would be completed if the bill becomes law. Garcia wasn’t aware of these details when questioned by Democrat Tom Daly, whose district benefits from it .
His constituents, who are in the minority group identified in the bill, overwhelmingly
supported improvements on a different freeway as well. Daly said the state already has pollution control law, then asked, “What are the specifics for folks that they are promised something and reneged?”
“I don’t know if they were promised anything,” Garcia responded.
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