From Supervisor John Moorlach’s email Update today, based on this Register story (emphasis ours):
Caltrans has performed what is known as a degradation study on the car pool lanes in Orange County. It has done so in response to Federal legislation that was enacted last July 6th. If the study determines that the car pool lanes are not delivering the minimum levels during peak hours, then Caltrans must remedy the lanes within 180 days. If it does not, then there is a possibility of losing Federal funding and project approvals.
Do you feel the constriction? Orange County residents were not keen on car pool lanes when they were introduced. Now that they have become overly comfortable with them, they must be punished. And Caltrans is recommending some draconian alternatives, while not even proposing a simple one: get solo drivers in energy-efficient vehicles out of the lanes. In fact, the study does not even differentiate car poolers from low emission vehicle single drivers. The main recommendation is to convert the car pool lanes into toll lanes. There’s big brother government for you.
Let’s see, we gave up a lane for car poolers. Now the car poolers are being kicked out of that lane and will be forced to pay to get back in. It seems that the simple solution is to restripe the freeways and eliminate the car pool lanes. If they are not moving when you need them, what is the point? And taxing a user, without voter approval, strikes me as not only unconstitutional, but a form of eminent domain due to the taking of free lanes. I say, set the fly overs free, remove the car pool lanes altogether, and then the Federal government can stay out of our business. I’m sure it won’t be that easy, but I’m ready for the debate…
The quotes from Doug Irving’s story are on point as well:
“It’s a complete ruse,” said Todd Spitzer, an OCTA board member and county supervisor. “They’re purposefully kicking people out so they can charge them to get back in.”
“I’d just as soon shut down the carpool lanes,” said John Moorlach, who also serves on the OCTA board and as a county supervisor.
The local reaction last year to the ridiculous notion of converting carpool to toll lanes on the 405 speaks volumes to Caltrans’ greed and, in this case, the misguided ideas of the normally freedom-conscious Reason Foundation. We’ve never agreed with Robert Poole at Reason on this issue — tolls should never be a tool to constrict the mobility of free people except in only the most extraordinary circumstances (think Golden Gate Bridge). Basic logic and fairness applies — no one wishes to pay for what we’ve already paid for.
It’s encouraging that at least two OCTA Directors are thinking straight on this issue — they need to be supported by the rest of their Board and tell Caltrans that NO toll lanes of any sort will be tolerated in Orange County.
For the carpool lanes, we’ve already seen the consequences of these failures in social engineering. It cost $600 million just to join them together at the 405/605/22 junction in the west county — a project that would have been unnecessary had they never been built in the first place — and money that could have been used for pavement for the rest of us.
If the carpool lanes are as congested as the lanes the rest of us use, perhaps the way to approach this is to say Caltrans has won — they’ve fulfilled their purpose and met their goals, but now that there’s no difference in end-use, let’s declare victory, take away the striping and signs, and move onto other things.
This is the kind of sensible, outside-the-box thinking that could get one a nomination for State office. Moorlach’s right — let’s stop the nonsense and make them go away.