VISALIA, Calif. – Forget about the high-speed rail zipping commuters from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
One Southern California politician, state Sen. John Moorlach, has introduced a bill that would do away with speed limits for certain lanes on I-5 and Highway 99 – two vital roadways that stretch across the Golden State.
The measure would require the Department of Transportation to expand the 235-mile stretches from Bakersfield to Stockton on both sides of I-5 and Highway 99 by two lanes.
If you think this sounds like the premise of “Mad Max” movie, some California motorists would agree.
“I would stay off the freeway,” Vikki Short said. “There are enough crazy drivers (without) taking away the speed limit.”
Moorlach points to what he describes as the safer and less congested German autobahn system, which features some stretches with no speed limits.
“The stats prove that driving in Germany is safer,” the Orange County Republican said. “And, there’s less congestion.”
Moorlach’s opinion is popular among some.
“The autobahn works just fine in Germany, why not here,” Joey Torres said. “Of course, there will always those ‘what if’ people but no is forcing you to get on it. These are the kind of out of the box ideas that need to be proposed to taxpayers when proposing tax increases.”
And what about Central California’s notorious Tule Fog in the winter and dust storms in the summer that often cut down visibility on Highway 99 and I-5?
“Drivers will need to use common sense of course,” Moorlach said. “I don’t think people will drive 100 mph in a dust storm.”
Other Californians see the proposal as an opportunity.
“I think it’d be a huge tourist attraction for California,” said Kara Vincent-Grim. “People will come from all over the US to use the only No Limit road to finally be able to drive their high-end sports cars.”
Moorlach’s proposal comes after the news that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is scaling back on plans to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The cost of the project had ballooned to $77 billion.
“Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address on Feb. 12. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”
Newsom, though, said he wants to finish construction already underway on a segment of the high-speed train through the Central Valley. The project would connect a 119-mile stretch from Merced to Bakersfield.
Moorlach proposal has some questions, though. The cost of building two additional traffic lanes on I-5 and Highway 99 isn’t known yet.
Follow James Ward on Twitter: @VTDChoices
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