Guest Commentary: Arnold Calls It ‘Insanity’ and Uses Caltrans Policy as Proof

image courtesy of CalTrans

I-80 Widening Discussed at Council Meeting

by Alan Hirsch

A Report on Tuesday 1/9 Davis City Council meeting 2-hour discussion I-80

– No one member of public or council spoke in favor of the freeway widening—except Josh Chapman.

– Over 20 public comments all opposing the widenings were heard.

– Four of the five council folks voiced opposition to widening the freeway, discussing the project for 1 ½ hours; Bapu shared his thought based on his thoughtful letter critiquing DEIR.

– The four all supported the strong city staff CEQA letter noting many gaps in the EIR. The four voiced opposition to adding car capacity by widening and wanted more transit.

– Councilman Will Arnold read Caltrans policy guidance to local district. It states flatly freeway widenings don’t work and are contrary to state climate change plan.  He call it the definition of “insanity” to try widening one more time.  Arnold is a former high level Caltrans employee.

– Josh Chapman was silent on this. He said he favored the widening via toll lanes but never unpacked why to his peers or public. No one asked.

But in the end, the city council did NOT support the transit option and opposed widening because of abstentions by Gloria Partida (“I’m not sure” i.e.-we may need toll revenue) and Donna Neville (“I need more information”).

– Caltrans DEIR response to city and others letter will largely be hidden.  It was explained that any Caltrans fixes to the EIR would only be revealed at state clearing house with just ten days after notice before Caltrans final decision made—behind closed doors.

However, YoloTD board can still exert power on Caltrans as they control the purse strings. Please send a public comment to them at:

Sign the Petition to block I-80 Yolo Widening

By signing we hope to show our local elected freeway widening is unpopular and we know doesn’t work…and harms the environment irreparably.  Tell them the people of California are looking for better transit and less traffic, not more freeway lanes.

Why this petition matters

Here are the undisputed facts about the I-80 Freeway widening:

  1. It is likely to increase congestion through “induced traffic.”
  2. It will reduce incentives for people to take transit or carpool.
  3. It is likely to add 495,000 vehicle miles traveled daily.
  4. It is likely to increase GHG emissions by > 79,000 tons annually, or 14% of Davis citywide emissions.
  5. It will potentially increase congestion on surrounding roads such as Mace.

So why are $465,000,000 dollars being used for a freeway widening near Davis?

  • Many local Davis politicians think freeway widening will be popular among constituents.
  • They don’t care that this won’t solve traffic congestion.
  • They don’t care that this will increase CO2 emissions.
  • Many elected members of the Yolo Transportation District are more excited to collect freeway tolls than consider their other options.

They argue that freeway widening is the only option since it has been supported by the Federal Government and local business interests.

Will Arnold of the Davis City council, a former Caltrans employee calls the widening “insanity.”

For why your voice really matters RIGHT NOW, read Dr. Amy Lee’s recent UCD dissertation. She says that local politicians push through freeway widenings against the advice of experts and California state guidelines, and that we locals are well positioned to stop this pattern.

Lee, A. E. (2023). The Policy and Politics of Highway Expansions. UC Davis.  ProQuest ID: Lee_ucdavis_0029D_22550. Merritt ID: ark:/13030/m58q6vxt. Retrieved from

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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