Can California Make Transportation Climate-Friendly? This New Plan Will Help.

Last month the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), with CCA’s support, adopted its Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), after a lengthy public process that began with Governor Newsom’s Executive Order in September of 2019. CAPTI sets a framework for planning transportation in a way that doesn’t further destroy the environment, the economy, or the health of Californians. CAPTI prioritizes the mobility of humans rather than vehicle velocity and recommends improving zero-emission charging infrastructure for both cars and trucks, improving and connecting transit systems, and increasing long-term, sustainable funding for walking and bicycling, among other things.

However, as has become abundantly evident, simply increasing money for sustainable transportation alternatives is insufficient. It’s just as critical to cut back on the money spent in California to promote car travel. Instead of spending resources on improving other options, California continues to invest in making it easier and faster to drive – a mode that increases harmful emissions and is unsustainable because even with more gas tax revenue, there isn’t enough money to maintain the roads that currently exist. Finding strategies to provide more transportation options is key to reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and attaining our climate and air quality mandates.

For a long time, transportation has been centered on the automobile, with improvements to vehicles and faster roadways. However, new technology, ranging from micromobility to EV technology to safe active transportation modes, is on the horizon. Everything must be integrated, and transit must work in tandem with all of these other modes and ways.

CAPTI currently simply serves as a framework on which details can be hung. Caltrans, which regulates the state highway system, has been working on a strategic plan to move its attention away from highways and vehicles and toward all road users, and is still figuring out how that would work. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has adopted a resolution on CAPTI and has begun its workshops for its major infrastructure projects to form this cycle’s guidelines. The California Transportation Commission must now catch up with the rest of the agencies, accept CAPTI’s objectives, and assist in determining how to achieve them and implement them into their program guidelines.

We are looking forward to working with CalSTA, CalTrans, and the CTC on the implementation phase.

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