Fight freeway expansion, group says

Groups opposed to sticking a Band-Aid on a broken leg are hosting a fund-raiser to fight Caltrans’ Highway 50 expansion project. Neighbors Advocating Sustainable Transportation and the Environmental Council of Sacramento filed a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of Caltrans’ environmental-impact report. The freeway-widening project, opponents say, will only produce temporary relief to traffic congestion in the Sacramento area, while contributing to increased pollution and noise.

The project—scheduled to begin in 2009—would add eastbound and westbound high-occupancy vehicle lanes to U.S. 50 between Sunrise Boulevard and Watt Avenue. The carpool lanes are designated for vehicles carrying two or more people during peak morning and evening hours. The project’s final environmental-impact report found no significant impact requiring mitigation. During the 60-day public-review process, the document elicited roughly 300 comments, the majority of which expressed concerns with freeway widening.

Caltrans is charged with maintaining mobility on the state’s highway system, and representatives say widening is in response to travel demand resulting from development along the U.S.-50 corridor. But opponents argue that if the state’s going to reduce greenhouse gases, it needs to ramp up mass transportation rather than encourage freeway use. This may not be Caltrans’ job, but the project is being paid for by Measure A funds, leaving fewer dollars for bicycle, pedestrian and transit projects, opponents say.

The Foolish Freeway Frolic fund-raising party takes place Friday, February 22, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Revolution Wines, 2116 P Street in Sacramento. Tickets are $20 advance or $25 at the door. Call (916) 760-6064 or check out