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A Conversation with Jonathan Franzen Something to Love – Something to Hope For
January 16, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Jonathan Franzen has written that in the face of worsening climate disruption we need to “maintain functioning democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities…Any good thing you do now is arguably a hedge against the hotter future, but the really meaningful thing is that it’s good today. As long as you have something to love, you have something to hope for.”
Since Jonathan mentioned the “L” word, we will say it. One of the ways we express our love for each other and the next generation is in advocating for a local transportation system that not only reduces our impact on the climate, but frees people from depending on autos. That system would be liberating for non-drivers, safer when we walk and ride a bike, and easing of the huge burden on household expenses. To get there we need our local political leaders to steer a different course. Our lawsuit against Caltrans regarding expansion of Highway 1 is a chance to revise local priorities.
The Sierra Club’s Transportation Policy states a simple principle, “No freeways should be built or widened”. It offers guidance to communities such as ours that are considering highway expansion for High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes, “High occupancy vehicle (HOV) and high occupancy vehicle/toll (HOT) lanes should come from converting existing highway lanes rather than constructing new lanes.”
Caltrans and the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) are proposing to double the lanes on a nine mile stretch of Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and San Andreas Road (adding an HOV lane and auxiliary lane in each direction). The RTC acknowledges that this project is not financially feasible until “after 2035”. Nevertheless, the RTC plans to build a portion of the project: four miles of auxiliary lanes between Santa Cruz and State Park Dr. The Caltrans EIR concluded that auxiliary lanes will not reduce congestion or improve collision rates. But they will increase vehicle miles traveled—and greenhouse gases.
Why is the RTC planning to move forward on a project that has no congestion relief or safety benefit? The reason, say RTC members, is that voters expect them to do something about congestion on the highway. We wish they would explain to voters that this project will not fulfill hopes for reduced congestion.
Our lawsuit points out that the Highway 1 EIR is inadequate because it did not analyze alternatives to the project, such as:
Dedicated bus lanes on Highway 1 (bus-on-shoulder)
Transit on the rail corridor
Increased transit frequency on the Watsonville-Santa Cruz corridor
None of the studies on these options were included in the EIR’s Alternatives Analysis. That’s why we feel hopeful that our lawsuit will succeed. We have retained the services of attorney William Parkin, who successfully sued Caltrans over highway expansion in Santa Barbara.
We are halfway to our goal of raising $56,000 for the lawsuit. Will you please join us in making a donation online? For a tax deduction send a check made out to the Sierra Club Foundation to CFST, PO Box 7927, Santa Cruz, Ca. 95061. Put “Santa Cruz County Caltrans Litigation Project” in the memo line.
For any donation large or small, we’ll gift you a ticket to our online gathering, Something to Love—Something to Hope For
A Conversation with Jonathan Franzen, on January 16th at 5pm.