Opinion

People will die if the state steals money from Hwy. 46’s ‘Blood Alley.’ Back off, Governor

Diverting gas tax revenue away from San Luis Obispo County’s dangerous Highway 46 East corridor — a stretch known as Blood Alley — will almost certainly cost more lives.

Is that something you can live with, Gov. Newsom?

We didn’t think so, which is why you should immediately reverse the decision to channel funds away from highway improvements in order to spend more on rail projects.

That’s an insult to California voters who agreed last November to stick with a controversial, 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax that was promoted as a way to fix our failing roadways.

Voters recognized that our highway system is a mess, and greatly in need of an infusion of cash both for improvements and repairs.

Now, some of the most highly anticipated projects — widening the last remaining two-lane portion of Highway 46, as well as two other highway improvement projects in the Central Valley — have been put on hold.

California voters are right to be livid.

Paying higher gas taxes is a sacrifice, especially in a state where residents already struggle with astronomically high housing costs.

San Luis Obispo County residents have been especially hard hit by rising gas prices; last week, The Tribune reported that gas was up 40 cents over the previous month. The average here was $4.22 per gallon, compared to the statewide average of $4.11.

The governor’s goal of promoting mass transit is admirable — indeed, it’s an indispensable step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions — but let’s face reality. Californians are still highly dependent on their vehicles, and the state has a responsibility to keep highways as safe as possible.

It’s long been recognized that Highway 46 is treacherous; it’s seen three times the number of motorist fatalities than the state average, according to Caltrans.

Improvements already have been made there, but a final section still needs to be widened, and a center median added in the Antelope Grade area east of the Cholame “Y.”

Now, thanks to Gavin Newsom’s executive decision to spend more on rail and less on highways, the state is withholding $15.5 million — a relatively small sum — to complete the project.

That can’t happen.

Gov. Newsom, protect your constituents. Don’t let any more people die because this last section of highway was left unfunded.

Rail can wait; safety can’t.

Let Gov. Newsom know how you feel about defunding improvements to “Blood Alley.”

Email: govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/

Phone: 916-445-2841

Toll free: 800-807-6755

Fax: 916-558-3160

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