Monday, June 18 , 2018, 10:39 am | Fair 63º


Jennifer Christensen: How to Widen Highway 101

Anyone who has to drive on Highway 101 through the Santa Barbara-Carpinteria corridor knows we have a major freeway congestion problem.

Hours, days and weeks of people’s lives are spent annually sitting in traffic. Local businesses that need the freeway widened for commerce and commuting employees are being hurt.

Local public safety is affected by the problem. Remember back in 2010 when a local firefighter was handcuffed and detained while responding to a traffic incident on the 101 at 3 p.m.?

I have consistently voiced my support for the community’s need to get this project done — on time and on budget.

We have a transportation problem, and congestion on Highway 101 is a big part of it. This affects the First District more than any other. The 101 widening project represents one of the largest infrastructure projects ever to be undertaken in our area.

The First District will bear the brunt of all of the impacts of this project, and construction will take years — even if they broke ground tomorrow. When have you ever known Caltrans to be incredibly speedy and efficient? You can’t say that in one sentence without laughing out loud.

Our community found a way to do this project more affordably than the state, with less environmental impacts and in less time. That’s not obstructionist. That’s just good old-fashioned common sense.

Caltrans played the perfect bad guy in fighting against the alternative freeway widening project — a community-led project that was cheaper, faster and better. I liked the alternative plan. So did a lot of engineers.

In April of this year, my opponent was asked to consider legislation that took its inspiration from Gov. Jerry Brown to allow the suspension of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, for existing road and highway updates and repairs. We could expedite the process to get our roads fixed.

My opponent shot that down and demanded a tax increase to repair our existing roads and highways. One month later, he says he’s all for the widening project, because he knows it’s what his audience wants to hear. He’s shown us his stripes with the April vote on AB 1569.

We can’t say we aren’t forewarned as to his true intentions and inability to get our roads repaired.

As your First District supervisor, I won’t hold the taxpayers hostage and use Highway 101 to get more tax money out of you. I will fight for the state and federal governments to pay their fair share. And I won’t agree to give away our gas tax revenues we so desperately need to fix our local county roads that are falling apart.

I will fix that gridlock and widen the 101. And I will protect this community from the negative environmental impacts and tax abuse in doing so.

The First District supervisor IS ACCOUNTABLE to this community and must be their champion. I am standing with this community.

Jennifer Christensen is a candidate for First District Santa Barbara County supervisor.

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