Guest Opinion - Who likes traffic? Now is the time to invest in choices that free us and keep our climate safe

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By Mackenzie Wieser | 

UPDATED 10 a.m. March 11 |

Back in November 2018, Sacramento and West Sacramento’s Mayors banded together to form a 20-plus member Climate Commission dedicated to determining how both cities would reach Carbon Zero by 2045. The Commission has been focused on creating strategies and tactics that both cities will implement to achieve this audacious goal. Elk Grove’s Mayor Steve Ly saw the importance and appointed me as Elk Grove’s commissioner to the Mayors’ Climate Commission offers a regional perspective, beginning in March 2019. As Commissioners, we have held countless meetings and met with many stakeholders who have dedicated their time to serving on Technical Advisory Committees in different categories, yet all focused on the goal of Carbon Zero by 2045.

Elk Grove is now at the ‘Y’ in the road: for decades our city has been building out low density, car-dependent neighborhoods, leading to more roads and lanes full of traffic, yet still claiming that this will help the city’s traffic concerns. Car commuters are now faced with slow-moving traffic on the I-5 due to HOV construction that will likely last three to five years and on Hwy. 99 where commuters are not only faced with doubled commute times but crank out ever more air pollutants and climate-changing greenhouse gases. 2045 will be here before we know it; which fork in the road will Elk Grove residents, businesses, and civic leaders choose? Will we look up or keep staring down at the pavement?

More than 75-percent of the commutes to and from Elk Grove are to downtown Sacramento and back. Have you had the chance to take a look at E-Tran buses in the morning? I know that the last bus from West Elk Grove leaves at 7 a.m. and usually always has riders standing the entire 40-minute commute to downtown. So, Elk Grove, your options are to sit in your car for double the time or stand for nearly 40 minutes. Both options are not appealing at all. We need to invest in a transportation system where most county residents can live and work within walking/biking distance or a transit stop from everything we need. You can learn more about this vision, proposed by Sacramento Metro Advocates for Rail and Transit and SacMoves on their Facebook page. It includes Climate Commission transportation goals. 

The Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) is considering a 2020 half-cent sales tax measure for transportation. Our county and cities face many transportation challenges: deferred maintenance, unsafe roads, traffic congestion, increasing public demand for more transportation choices, and stringent air quality mandates to protect us from our number one pollution source – vehicles. So, what should we expect from spending the $200 million per year expected to be raised by the new tax measure? Certainly, investment in Carbon Zero by 2045. The Mayors’ Climate Commission provides practical strategies for our transportation sector. However, the STA will miss the mark if it recklessly ignores state and federal air quality improvement and greenhouse gas emission mandates for roadway expansion projects at the expense of bike, pedestrian and transit build-out. Elk Grove should step up as a regional leader with the Climate Commission and work to bring this vision to our city and our next generation. Otherwise, we’re just blowing smoke.

It’s my hope that we stop talking about how we will begin to develop differently in Elk Grove, and instead actually begin to develop differently. I know I’m tired of sitting in traffic to move about my life in Elk Grove. I bet many of you would like that time back, as well. We need to ask our leadership to stand strong in supporting a different vision rather than more of the same!


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Randy Bekker said...

We need to send a loud message to STA with voting No. Now that might make your blood boil but I do agree with you but in a different way a different approach needs to be taken. Elk Grove has always been left behind or last. We have close to 20,000 commuters that work public/private but we do not have light rail to south end of the city, we don’t have express bus service to offer a cheap enough fair to get these citizens out of their cars an Light Rail parking lots have had issues of crime to the parked cars. Why isn’t the State helping build the South County bypass (Kammerer rd) around the city of Sacramento. It’s only been on the books for 50 plus years. Most big cities have freeways routes away from the heart of the city. Why don’t we have working Pods here instead of state works commuting down town. Have we looked into a Elk Grove city tax so we can manage our tax dollars? Each STA member has an agenda. Why are we part of it an picking up crumbs when others have better options than we do. I will not support being strong armed an told what we need by others. Both 99 an I-5 are done with expansions an their is no shovel ready plan in place to help. Why? When Folsom is getting a second line. Vote no take our future in our own hands an stop drinking the Koolaid. Sacramento doesn’t know what is best or what we need now. Do not support other cities, keep our tax dollars here, managed here!

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