California bill intended to aid transportation projects

September 9, 2020

Keith Goble

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The California Legislature has approved a bill to benefit transportation work intended to get people off of the state’s roadways.

Sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, the bill would speed up projects considered to be “sustainable.” Specifically, SB288 would exempt transit projects from stricter review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Exempted California transportation projects would include adding bus rapid transit lines, the installation of zero-emission bus charging infrastructure, and walking and biking infrastructure.

The Senate voted 32-5 to approve Assembly changes to the bill. The vote clears the way for the bill to move to the governor’s desk. Assembly members approved the bill on a 65-3 vote.

The bill is not intended to aid getting road work done, but it could help alleviate some road congestion.

Pros and cons

Wiener said when more people use alternatives to cars greenhouse gas emissions go down.

“The transportation projects that SB288 would streamline are job creators and important for the fight against climate change,” Wiener said in prepared remarks.

Others add that the bill is no-cost stimulus to get projects underway as the state’s economy recovers from slowdowns and shutdowns since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Additionally, exemptions are touted to shave project timelines by six months to four years.

Critics say the California transportation bill would allow a long list of transportation projects that will likely bring significant environmental impacts to be greenlighted without a thorough review. As a result, the projects would be allowed to circumvent the CEQA’s important public participation and environmental health requirements.

More Land Line coverage of news from California is available.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.