LOS ANGELES – A tunnel from Glendale to Palmdale, an expressway/tunnel connecting Riverside and Orange counties, and an extensive network of toll lanes connecting all major freeways in Southern California are among the proposals included in a $700 billion congestion-reduction plan released Tuesday by a nonprofit think tank.
The Reason Foundation proposal calls for variably priced toll lanes on all major highways and expressways, along with tolled overpasses and underpasses at bottleneck interchanges and a dramatic increase in bus rapid transit and express bus service.
It also outlines six “mega-projects” to close what it calls major gaps in the Southland transportation network. The projects are:
- A tunnel extending north from the Glendale (2) Freeway in Glendale, connecting with the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway south of Palmdale;
- A high-desert corridor expressway between the 14 Freeway in Palmdale and 15 Freeway in Victorville;
- A 710 Freeway extension tunnel connecting with the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena;
- A downtown bypass tunnel extending the 2 Freeway south through Los Angeles to the Harbor (110) Freeway;
- An Irvine-Corona Freeway, including an expressway and tunnel between Riverside and Orange counties; and
- A “cross-mountain” expressway and tunnel between the Ventura (101) Freeway in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica (10) Freeway in Los Angeles.
“Southern California is facing crucial transportation decisions,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, author of the Reason Foundation report. “The region’s current long-range mobility plans admit that traffic congestion will only get worse, even after taxpayers spend over $600 billion on transportation. By focusing on reducing congestion and replacing expensive, ineffective rail proposals with cost-effective buses, Reason’s plan improves mobility for drivers and transit users. And it does so without tax increases.”
According to the report, the use of toll roads would generate about $362 billion to fully cover the costs of construction, while another $352 billion in “taxpayer resources” would be needed — compared to $606 billion for the existing Southern California Association of Governments’ Long Range Transportation Plan.
“As a result, our plan can be constructed with current resources, no tax increase is needed,” Feigenbaum wrote in an online summary of the report.
Mary Peters, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said Southern California drivers spend 80 hours sitting in stalled traffic each year, equating to two work weeks’ worth of lost productivity.
“The Reason Foundation report offers solid solutions to these challenges that do not require tax increases and would improve mobility options for all users in the region,” Peters said. “I commend the innovative solutions proposed in it.”
[View the Reason Foundation’s report here.]