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California Commission to Consider Funding Harmful I-80 Expansion Project

by Center for Biological Diversity
ORANGE, Calif., May 14, 2024 — The California Transportation Commission will vote Thursday on whether to fund the Yolo 80 Corridor Improvements Project. The project proposes to add one lane of traffic in each direction, expanding the highway from six to eight lanes as it travels from Davis to Sacramento through the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.
The project, expected to cost between $230 million and $465 million, would increase greenhouse gas pollution and harm sensitive wildlife.

“This project is the epitome of bad planning,” said Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Decades of research have proved that more lanes create more traffic. Yet Caltrans is proposing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to lock us into a future of car dependency at the expense of community health and our environment. To reach the state’s climate goals, California must stop looking for solutions in the rear-view mirror.”

“The same week that key climate, education and social programs are fighting for scraps in a deepening statewide budget deficit, Caltrans is preparing to funnel hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to yet another freeway boondoggle,” said Jamie Pew, a policy advisor at NextGen California. “The Yolo 80 proposal is not just a surefire way to make traffic and air pollution worse in the region; it is a symbol of Caltrans’ refusal to implement its own climate policies in good faith.”


In 2023 Caltrans published a draft environmental report for the Yolo 80 Corridor Improvements Project. The Center and more than 30 other sustainable transportation groups submitted comments calling for an alternative with “no additional lanes.” On May 1, Caltrans published the final environmental report without public review and without addressing many of the critiques that followed the draft report.

“This project is a reckless use of taxpayer funds amidst a severe budget crisis at the state level for a project that will have tangible harm to our climate and the public health of the surrounding area,” said Marc Vukcevich, director of state policy for Streets For All. “It’s a shame to see our state actions be so different from the values of the public and electorate.”

“This is a controversial and problematic project, the legality of which has already been questioned,” said Matthew Baker, policy director at the Planning and Conservation League. “It is not a project the California Transportation Commission should be considering for advanced funding. California needs to stop its perpetual funding of ever-more highway expansion if we are going to have any chance of achieving our greenhouse gas reduction mandates.”

* What: California Transportation Commission meeting
* When: Thursday, May 16, 9 a.m.
* Where: Orange County Transportation Authority Boardroom, 550 South Main St., Orange, CA 92868.
* Zoom: Registration information available on Caltrans website.
* Who: Representatives of environmental, sustainable transportation and community groups will speak out against the proposed project. Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat and Jamie Pew will be available for interviews.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
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