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Moorlach proposes replacing the proposed bullet train with Autobahn-like lanes

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Traffic on the German motorway A95 near Munich, Germany last month. A California lawmaker has proposed new freeway lanes with no speed limit in the Golden State.
(Lukas Barth EPA/Shutterstock)

If Californians can’t have high-speed steel rails, a proposed bill would allow them to at least legally use their lead feet to get from the south to the north.

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) introduced a bill last week to add two dedicated, speed-limit-free lanes to Interstate 5 and State Route 99 to replace California’s beleaguered $77-billion bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which is $44 billion over budget and 13 years behind schedule — or at least act as a stop-gap.

“If Sacramento is serious about allowing Californians to travel between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and high-speed rail will take too long to build, let’s construct four additional lanes with no maximum speed limit to provide for high speed on a safe road,” Moorlach said.

Under Senate Bill 319, the 5 and the 99 would get two dedicated lanes in each direction the full length of both freeways — Mexico to Oregon for the 5, Wheeler Ridge to Red Bluff for the 99 — that would allow motorists to travel faster than the speed limit, which is 65 to 70 mph.

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Moorlach’s proposal doesn’t estimate a price tag for the project, but identifies cap-and-trade revenues as the funding source.

“It is the intent of the Legislature to provide Californians with a viable alternative to the high-speed rail system project by providing them with access to high-speed, unabated transportation across the state,” the bill reads. “It is further the intent of the Legislature to decrease traffic congestion and thereby decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases caused by automobiles.”

In his announcement for the bill, Moorlach said the Autobahn-esque lanes would replace “the defunct high-speed rail project — or at least [provide] an expedited transportation option until a substantial high-speed rail segment can be built decades in the future.”

That references comments Gov. Gavin Newsom made earlier this month in his State of the State address, when he was reassessing, though not halting the project.

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