California law to help drivers, environment

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/30/2014

A new law in California would help curb vehicle emissions and reduce traffic congestion throughout the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law to make traffic synchronization programs eligible for funding through the Greenhouse Gas Emission Fund. Previously AB1447, the new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, said the new law will allow signal synchronization to be implemented more broadly throughout the state.

“Expanding these programs is a win-win because it will have a positive impact on our environment by cutting back on air pollution and reducing commute times for Californians,” Waldron said in a news release.

She noted that when traffic light synchronization was implemented in Orange County, congestion decreased and reduced stops by 41 percent, travel time by 22 percent, and fuel consumption by 12 percent.

In Los Angeles, synchronization of the city’s 4,400 traffic signals was recently completed. According to a bill analysis, initial results show that travel time in the city was reduced by 12 percent. It is estimated that the synchronization program would reduce emissions by 1 million metric tons.

The Greenhouse Gas Emission Fund receives money from power plants and other heavy manufacturers that must buy permits to exceed greenhouse gas emissions that were set in a 2006 law. The cap-and-trade program is set to expand to include oil companies after the first of the year.

The California Air Resources Board estimates the program could result in a fuel tax increase between 15 cents and 76 cents per gallon.

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