Caltrans Still Claims 5 Freeway Widening Reduces Congestion, Improves Air

How road widening works. Cartoon via @BrentToderian Twitter
How road widening works. Cartoon via @BrentToderian Twitter

Caltrans District 7 is at it again. Similar to a misleading 2016 video, in this new promotional video Caltrans District 7 inexplicably proclaims that widening the 5 Freeway will (starting minute 3:30) “reduce congestion and improve air quality.” The $1.9-billion widening is funded by Metro’s Measure R.

It appears that Caltrans actually believes the results of studies based on the discredited Level of Service metrics. Freeway construction and expansion projects keep promising to take congestion off of L.A. County roads. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars, those roads remain congested, the air is foul, kids get asthma, and there is plenty of noise, disconnected neighborhoods, obesity, and other problems – all accompanied by budget-breaking infrastructure maintenance costs passed along to California’s children.

See this earlier SBLA article outlining the well-known flaws inherent in Caltrans’ outdated self-defeating thinking. Since the 1960s it has been clear that adding capacity to roads does not reduce congestion. Some day Caltrans might get the memo.

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