I find it unbelievable – and odd – how an entire region seeking ways to reduce carbon and other emissions, apparently, is not thinking along the lines of urban or commuter passenger rail transportation as in it playing an active role in helping the region meet California mandated 2008 Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (state Senate Bill 375) emissions-reduction targets.
What I’m driving at is this: In the May 17, 2014 Bakersfield Californian article: “Growth plan taking hits from all sides,” staff writer James Burger could not be any more clear when he wrote: “The Kern Council of Governments has finished the delicate job of mapping the county’s growth and transportation future — and been rewarded with grumbling and outright disapproval from environmentalists and developers alike.
“State law requires the regional transportation agency to outline a way to provide transportation for a county population projected to grow to more than 1 million by 2020 at the same time it reduces air pollution.”
Burger goes on to state that a major source of south San Joaquin Valley air pollution is cars and trucks.
Believe me; other counties and areas besides Kern are experiencing or have already experienced just these kinds of “growing” pains. The key is to come up with appropriate and effective solutions. Perhaps taking a cue from another region is the ticket.
Talking specifics, the approach taken in Salt Lake City, Utah has had what I deem as phenomenal success. For much more on this, see: “eMission control – Focus: Metro travel ways.”
Meanwhile, in “eMission control – Focus: Roadways,” I wrote: “Meanwhile, in ‘Study: 10% More Smart Growth = 20% Less Driving,’ writer Angie Schmitt writes: ‘Dr. Sudip Chattopadhyay measured the impact of certain smart growth indicators on 18 metro areas across the U.S. He found that a 10 percent increase in smart growth amenities — measured by residential and job density and per-capita transit spending — leads to a 20 percent reduction in miles driven.’
“Schmitt notes also that if central California cities like Bakersfield, Fresno and Modesto, for example, had comparable densities and offered transit amenities of the likes of the Los Angeles’ and the San Francisco’s of the world, a reduction of 55 percent in driving activity per household per year or roughly 5,238 fewer miles driven could be expected.”
It appears as though the South Valley region and Dr. Chattopadhyay have neither made acquaintances nor exchanged ideas.
“… [T]he proposed KernCOG [Kern Council of Governments] plan protects federal and state freeway construction dollars from being shut-off if air pollution doesn’t get better,” Burger added.
Did I just read that right? “… federal and state freeway construction dollars …”?! And, here I thought a reduction in vehicle travel miles is what was being sought here.
Expanded freeways yielding fewer motor vehicle travel miles? Sorry, but I just don’t see it.
Moreover, nowhere in the Bakersfield Californian article in question, is there a single reference to trains.
When it comes to sweeping pollutant-emissions reduction, I sincerely hope Kern and the greater San Joaquin Valley don’t miss the boat … make that, the train.
– Alan Kandel