On the El Cerrito City Council agenda Tuesday night is a resolution opposing a bill by state Assemblywoman Fiona Ma to open carpool lanes on Interstate 80 to all vehicles during commute hours in the "reverse commute direction."
The bill, AB 2200, would apply to I-80 between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge. It would suspend the carpool lane requirement of three people in a vehicle for eastbound traffic between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and for westbound traffic between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The law would expire on Jan. 1, 2020.
The proposed City Council resolution says that Ma's bill would slow buses and thus reduce ridership on public transit and increase greenhouse gases. The council measure also says the bill would undermine a $93-million multi-jurisdiction plan to install ramp metering lights and other congestion-reducing traffic controls on the freeway. That plan – the I-80 Integrated Corridor Mobility (ICM) Project – won El Cerrito City Council support most recently on March 26.
The council resolution parallels an April 20 letter sent to Ma by the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC). The council measure was proposed by City Councilwoman Janet Abelson, the WCCTAC chair.
An analysis of Ma's bill by the Assembly Transportation Committee's chief consultant, Janet Dawson, says Ma "asserts that HOV lanes in this corridor are not fully utilized at all times. She cites as evidence recent HOV (high-occupany vehicle) volume reports demonstrating that while the HOV lanes may be at or near capacity in the morning (approximately 1750 vehicles per hour), only 200 vehicles per hour used the HOV lane in the reverse commute direction."
The bill passed the Assembly Transportation Committee on a 9-2 vote on April 23. It is scheduled for a hearing in the Assemby Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.