By Tim Hunt
Prosperity challengesUploaded: Apr 14, 2016
Speaking to the transportation forum in late March, Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne said projections showed Interstate 580 becoming so congested over the next five years that it will surpass I-80 as the worst freeway in the Bay Area.
The routes serve both commuters and 18-wheelers. The tractor trailers are coming from outlying warehouses to serve Bay Area retailers (think of the massive Safeway warehouse and depot west of Tracy along I-580) as well as hauling containers to serve the Port of Oakland. I-580 also gets the commuter traffic from more affordable housing in the San Joaquin Valley that is bound for the Silicon Valley.
The job growth in the South Bay also has increased the number of people living in the Livermore Valley, particularly Pleasanton, and heading south on I-680. It’s no accident that the Bernal Avenue and Sunol Boulevard onramps are backed up—along with the freeway—most weekday mornings. The same goes for the growth in the number of luxury commute buses headed for major South Bay employers.
What’s creating the congestion is simple, but profoundly challenging to solve—prosperity driven by the growth in high-wage jobs in Silicon Valley, along the Peninsula and in the city.
What’s not keeping pace is the number of housing units.
In an editorial about why rent control is no solution, the San Francisco Business Times pointed out that in 2011 the Association of Bay Area Governments (the regional planning agency) estimated growth over the next 30 years. It forecast job growth of 206,000 and 136,000 new housing units by now.
Instead, the Times reported that association officials said the Bay Area has added 531,000 jobs and permitted just 94,000 units—it is not rocket science. The law of supply and demand does apply.