Senate Bill 319 -- The High-Speed Road

February 19, 2019


Senate Bill 319 requires the California Department of Transportation to study the German Autobahn, and compile a report to the Legislature and California Transportation Commission on how advanced transportation standards could be implemented in California.

Issue Background:

With structural and systematic issues arising with the current High-Speed Rail project, we must explore alternative means of rapid, long-distance transportation up and down California. I-5 and SR 99 serve as integral components to California’s highway system, but as our population grows the existing roadways deteriorate and traffic congestion worsens.

The German Autobahn provides a model for California to explore. Their highway system connects urban centers safely despite an unrestricted speed limit. While the High-Speed Rail would have provided expedited travel, these new proposed lanes would provide such an alternative. The World Health Organization estimated road traffic deaths per 100,000 people is 4.1 in Germany, while 12.4 in the United States. The BASt Federal Highway Research Institute delved deeper into accidents in Germany, finding injured accident rates (per million vehicle km) on autobahns is 0.09, compared to 0.22 on national and rural roads. The fatality rate (per billion vehicle km) is 1.7 on autobahns, and 6.3 on national and rural roads.

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) was established to finance projects that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Adding lanes to two of California’s largest roadways would help to reduce traffic congestion, and vehicles idling in traffic add greatly to greenhouse gas emissions. With funding from the GGRF, no tolls would be required.




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