Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Recently, my husband and I took the ferry from Jack London Square in Oakland to Fisherman’s Wharf. The trip was wonderful but I wish I could say the same about the drive from Del Webb to Jack London Square.
I was raised in the Bay Area and have driven its roads and freeways all of my life. But, I think our problems are greater now than I have ever seen.
The day we were to meet our daughters at Fisherman’s Wharf, we headed for the ferry. We usually take BART but with the parking problems, etc. I prefer the dangers of the freeway. We made it to San Francisco — just — but the drive to Jack London Square was a reminder of how far behind this state with the highest gasoline tax in the nation is. It took us 3 hours of stop and go traffic. We virtually crawled at times but that was not the worst of it. The worst was remembering the taxes we pay and the fact that the freeway is barely finished and already obsolete in terms of traffic. Another problem is the truck traffic that often took up all lanes. It is way past time for a ‘truck freeway’ of their own.
The state has been less than diligent in keeping up with the building of roads and freeways from east to west and west to east. If you think about it, the next highway south of us from west to east is California State Route 152 Once called Pacheco Pass which runs over the pass and then the freeway ends near the bottom and becomes a road again. There’s nothing much to the south and not much to the east. To the north, there is Highway 4 (eternally under construction it seems), Highway 12 — ditto, I-80 and nothing more until you reach Highway 20 which does stretch from near Grass Valley to the ocean. The little towns on the highway and around Clear Lake, are growing as is Ukiah. I know, our youngest daughter lives near Ukiah and we lived in Hidden Valley Lake in Lake County for 11 years. Truck traffic has increased but while the Highway is kept in good condition, it is inadequate as trucks rarely use the bypass lanes and the amount of truck traffic is growing as the area grows. Tough luck if you want to drive west from anywhere north of Highway 20 at Interstate 5. There are roads, but most are not what city dwellers expect and difficult to drive.
When we visit our eldest daughter in Santa Rosa, we have to take Highway 12 or spend all day driving up 101. Believe me, we know as we drive to Santa Rosa frequently. I really believe that our state government is not as interested in providing taxpayers with adequate highways as it is in leaving some sort of memorial to themselves in the form of the train ‘to nowhere’ and the tunnel of ‘tears’ that will ruin our valley.
The reason this is so frustrating to me is that I have lived in California almost all of my long life and we are always trying to play catch-up. This game seems to get worse with time and with the increase of taxes on gasoline. It is nice to drive alongside a Tesla knowing we are paying for the roads these cars use in our gas taxes and that we also partially paid for the cost of the car through tax credits. Very warm feeling knowing the ‘not so poor’ have aided the ‘not so wealthy’ in buying a car. Classic Governor ‘Moonbeam’ as he was once called. Build a railroad that no one is asking for and rob our valley of our water — way to go! We taxpayers never seem to be asked how we might like our tax dollars to be spent; rather we are told that some will be spent robbing this part of the Great Valley of an unknown quantity of water and some will be spent on what is called ‘the train to nowhere’ and that no one that I know of in this valley wants.
One more comment on our new highway — why is this extremely well-used highway not adequate? It must be poor planning. Trucks pay an enormous tax for highways but also cause enormous damage and I would think they are the most dangerous objects on the highway. Therefore, why not donate old highways to the trucking industry and use their taxes for them?
Interstate 580 through the Oakland Hills allows no trucks over a certain weight and is a joy to drive. I think the time has come to rethink our highways and how we use them.