New California law to help drivers, environment in effect Jan. 1

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A new California law in effect the first of the year is intended to help curb vehicle emissions and reduce traffic congestion throughout the state.

Starting Jan. 1, traffic synchronization programs in the Golden State will be eligible for funding through the Greenhouse Gas Emission Fund. Gov. Jerry Brown previously signed the bill into law.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, said the new law allows 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 previous 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 legislative analysis, initial results show that travel time in the city was reduced by 12 percent. It is estimated that the program would reduce emissions by one 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 program is set to expand to include oil companies after the first of the year.

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

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