Another reason why HOV's should not, under any circumstances, pay to use the Oakland Bay Bridge, the proposed I-15 Tolled Express Lanes through Riverside County or any other high occupancy toll lanes statewide.
An investigative story by the Sacramento Bee shows that the California Department of Transportation might be guilty of wasteful and unnecessary spending
of taxpayer transportation dollars. Caltrans officials overseeing
construction of the eastern segment of the $6.4 billion San
Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge approved a contract with a public relations
company that was going to cost California taxpayers close to a whopping
$10 million in transportation money.
You've read that right: $10 million from taxpayers' pockets to pay for
marketing of the eastern half of the newly reconstructed and retrofitted
Oakland Bay Bridge which would include producing a book and a video
documentary. Does the $6.4
billion earthquake-resistant eastern segment of the Bay Bridge warrant a
legacy complete with a book and a video? Clearly, that is up to private
authors, historians, the television industry, and other sectors of the
free market to decide,
not a state transportation department. But the $10 million for PR now
becomes a symbol of how wasteful the state can be with our
transportation money. To be fair, the Brown administration ordered
Caltrans to cancel this contract, but the
governor was forced to since the story broke. We all owe a big thanks
for the Bee for uncovering what could have been a state-level Watergate in the San Francisco Bay.
The Transit Coalition has seen some of the strangest transportation
proposals out there, but we have never seen a $10 million state-funded
transportation project PR before. These public scandals have happened
before and there are likely
others that have yet to be uncovered. We all remember the folks from the
State Department of Parks and Recreation from who illegally hid $54
million. The money games are in full swing. And now, both The Transit
Coalition and the public
have more of a reason to oppose budget-related transit cuts, question
proposed fare hikes, and confront ill-advised proposals of high
occupancy toll lanes which require HOV's to pay to use.
A conceptual art piece pictured above from A Better Inland Empire
shows an officially proposed HOT lane entry point at the I-15 Freeway
at Highway 74 in Lake Elsinore looking north. This concept shows what
the proposed entry point may look like if it rightfully supported free
non-transponder carpooling together with rapid express bus service and
supply-and-demand toll rates for solo drivers.
State and Riverside County public officials cite the lack of public funds
for construction of these lanes as their reasoning behind their
proposals to require carpoolers to pay tolls and/or preregister for
transponders in order to use
them. Officials in San Diego county have
also jumped aboard in their long term plans for the I-5 and I-15
freeways through the countryside, but if the state continues its
wasteful spending spree with your transportation dollars, both the
Coalition and the public will continue
to confront toll mandates for carpoolers along our freeways. Why should
any carpool patriot or a private sector transit operator have to work
harder everyday and pay tolls to use the high occupancy lanes so that
Caltrans can have a $10
million PR? The state agency has some explaining to do.
To our local transportation agencies and the state: You want extra
construction money to build multi-modal HOT lanes which support free
non-transponder carpooling, better distributed traffic flow, and offers a
quick throughfare for rapid
express transit buses and private sector coaches and charters? Close the
loopholes and cut the waste; strike out the $10 million PR.