Don't give in to lawsuit

Don't give in to lawsuit


I am dismayed about the litigation that would stall or stop American Canyon from widening Highway 29 to relieve traffic congestion ("American Canyon sued by environmental group over Highway 29 plan," July 17).

The misguided logic of the suit by a self-proclaimed advocate of renewable energy is that “building increased highway capacity increases vehicle miles traveled.”

In other words, if highways would just remain congested then there will be less traffic. This same logic was promoted by the revered Sierra Club when the interchange of I-80 and I-580 was rebuilt after the 1989 earthquake freeway collapse. Sierra Club lobbied to restrict that interchange to two lanes with the logic that a bottleneck would reduce traffic on I-80 and thus cut auto emissions.

Caltrans capitulated. The result was predictable. Traffic backed up over 5 miles all day long and the idling cars spewed more noxious fumes than an increase in number of vehicles could ever achieve. That adverse impact was immediately relieved when Caltrans opened the third lane and traffic continues to flow well after all these years.

This legal maneuvering about Highway 29 project is initiated by the litigious California Clean Energy Committee. In spite of the virtuous name and mission statement, this organization is headed by a salaried lawyer who has made a 10-year career of court filings against legally-outgunned cities and towns and demanded attorney fees in settlements. The California-wide targets of the suits include city master planning, shopping malls, power plants, and agricultural expansion.

The wording of their court filings is similar, that is some people “will be directly and adversely impacted.” That is a blanket statement that could apply to any change or lack of change.

The city of American Canyon has involved its citizens and regional transportation agencies for years, studied, deliberated and planned this highway project in the context of the entire Highway 29 corridor development. I hope American Canyon will resist caving in to this misuse of environmental advocacy. Napa County deserves better.

Tom Knepell



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