BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                                                               AB 1447

                               Senator Jerry Hill, Chair
                               2013-2014 Regular Session
           BILL NO:    AB 1447
           AUTHOR:     Waldron and V. Manuel Pérez 
           AMENDED:    June 12, 2014
           FISCAL:     Yes               HEARING DATE:     June 25, 2014
           URGENCY:    No                CONSULTANT:       Karen Morrison
                          GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION FUND: TRAFFIC  
            SUMMARY :    
            Existing law  :

           1) Under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB  
              32, Health and Safety Code §38500 et seq.):

              a)    Requires the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to  
                 determine the 1990 statewide greenhouse gas (GHG)  
                 emissions level and approve a statewide GHG emissions  
                 limit that is equivalent to that level, to be achieved by  

              b)    Requires ARB to adopt GHG emissions reductions measures  
                 by regulation.

              c)    Allows ARB to include market-based compliance  
                 mechanisms to reach GHG emission reduction goals.

           2) Establishes the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GOV §16428.8)  
              from money collected through ARB's market-based mechanisms  
              and prioritizes that the money shall be used to facilitate  
              the achievement of reductions in GHG emissions.

           3) Authorized The Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air  
              Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006, as approved by  
              voters on November 7, 2006 (Proposition 1B).  The $19.925  
              billion bond allocates $250 million to fund traffic light  
              synchronization projects or other technology-based  


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              improvements to improve safety, operations and the effective  
              capacity of local streets and roads.

            This bill  :

           1) Makes findings and declarations about traffic signal  
              synchronization as a method to reduce GHG emissions.

           2) Provides that traffic signal synchronization projects that  
              are designed and implemented to achieve cost-effective  
              reductions in GHG emissions and include specific reduction  
              targets and metrics to evaluate the project's effect may be  
              funded under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund as sustainable  
              infrastructure projects.

            COMMENTS  :

            1) Purpose of Bill  .  According to the author, this bill "adds  
              Traffic Signal Synchronization to list of eligible for  
              funding under AB 32 [?] as it is a proven to reduce  
              greenhouse gas emissions drastically."

            2) Traffic signal synchronization  .  Traffic signal  
              synchronization is a traffic planning process designed to  
              reduce congestion along streets.  Traditionally, traffic  
              lights adhere to a fixed light cycle over a set period of  
              time.  For example, a traffic light may have one complete  
              light cycle during the day that lasts 90 seconds, and a  
              second cycle at night that lasts 60 seconds.  Although fixed  
              light cycles efficiently manage consistent traffic flows,  
              this process is not well suited to managing variable traffic  

           Traffic signal synchronization allows for a more variable,  
              real-time-responsive network of traffic lights that can adapt  
              to changes in vehicle flow.  Proponents of traffic signal  
              synchronization claim that the process can decrease travel  
              time, increase travel speed, and reduce vehicle emissions and  
              fuel consumption.

            3) Implementation of traffic signal synchronization  .  Over the  
              last 20 years, numerous cities throughout the United States  
              have implemented traffic signal synchronization as a way to  


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              reduce vehicle congestion on streets and cut emissions.   
              According to the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a six  
              year traffic signal optimization program in Portland, Oregon  
              prevented the release of 157,000 metric tons of carbon  
              dioxide.  The implementation of traffic signal  
              synchronization in Nashville, Tennessee led to 1-3%  
              reductions in volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides,  
              and carbon monoxides.

           Several projects in California have used traffic synchronization  
              to ease traffic congestion and, ideally, address GHG  

           Los Angeles recently completed the synchronization of all of its  
              approximately 4,400 traffic signals in the city.  The  
              Automated Traffic Surveillance & Control (ATSAC) system was  
              initiated in the 1980s in preparation for the 1984 Summer  
              Olympics but was left uncompleted.  Following the passage of  
              Proposition 1B, Los Angeles received a $150 million  
              allocation to complete the ATSAC program.  Initial results  
              demonstrated an increase in travel speed by 16% and a  
              reduction in travel time by 12%.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio  
              Villaraigosa estimated that the program would reduce  
              emissions by 1,000,000 metric tons.

           Orange County has implemented two demonstration projects using  
              Measure M money (generated from a sales transportation tax).   
              The Measure M Regional Traffic Light Synchronization Program  
              has awarded $23 million for projects over the last three  

            4) Limitations of traffic synchronization  .  The long-term  
              benefits of traffic signal synchronization are not clear.

           Traffic signal synchronization leads to an increase in the  
              capacity of the road network.  Although this may lead to  
              benefits in travel time, travel speed, and GHG emissions in  
              the short term or for an individual driver, many studies have  
              identified that when the capacity of roads are increased,  
              more people drive.

           The Los Angeles traffic signal synchronization project is an  
              excellent example of this.  Although initial results  


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              demonstrated improvements in travel speed and travel time,  
              numerous reports suggest that traffic congestion today is  
              comparable to congestion prior to the traffic light  
              synchronization project.  According to University of Southern  
              California professor James E. Moore II, "If we reduce average  
              travel time in Los Angeles by 20 percent, then we will see  
              more people traveling."

           In addition, traffic synchronization is rarely used in  
              isolation.  Cities employ multiple strategies, including toll  
              and car pool lanes, bike lanes, and public transportation  
              development, in order to address congestion and reduce GHG  

           According to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation,  
              efforts are in place to encourage people to ride bikes, take  
              commuter rail lines or other public transportation, and move  
              close enough to work that they can walk.  These measures are  
              intended to address the long-term traffic concerns in Los  

            5) Use of cap-and-trade funds  .  Since the ARB cap-and-trade  
              auction began in 2013, California has received approximately  
              $734 million in proceeds to the state.  Several bills in 2012  
              provided legislative direction for the expenditure of auction  
              proceeds, including SB 535 (de León) that requires investment  
              and use of revenues for disadvantaged communities, and AB  
              1532 (J. Pérez) that authorized the Department of Finance to  
              develop an investment plan that identifies feasible and  
              cost-effective GHG emission reduction investments for  
              funding.  In addition, SB 375 (Steinberg) of 2008 emphasized  
              the importance of improved land use and transportation for  
              achieving the goals of AB 32.

           The Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review has held  
              several hearings to discuss the long-term use of  
              cap-and-trade revenues, and has determined that all  
              investments must lead to a reduction in GHGs, be subject to a  
              competitive ranking process, and meet all constitutional and  
              statutory requirements.  The Committee identified seven  
              general categories for funding: transit, affordable housing  
              and sustainable communities, low carbon transportation,  
              energy, natural resources and water diversion, high-speed  


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              rail, and inter-city rail.  The current budget allocates 35%  
              of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for transit, affordable  
              housing, and sustainable communities.

            6) Arguments in support  .  According to supporters, "By adding  
              traffic synchronization to the eligible list of funds under  
              AB 32 greenhouse gas reduction fund, [?] this important piece  
              of legislation will decrease traffic congestion and reduce  
              greenhouse gases."  Supporters argue, "There are other ways  
              to reduce congestions and improve air qualities such as  
              improving public transit services, promoting alternative mode  
              of transportation such as adding bike lanes etc.  
              Unfortunately, these are more of long-term solutions and  
              require significant capital cost.  Adding funding for traffic  
              signal synchronization projects can provide immediate relief  
              efficiently to the worsening congestion problem in the Bay  

            7) Arguments in opposition  .  According to opponents, "the  
              Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds, created by AB 1532 (J. Pérez,  
              Statutes of 2012, Chapter 807), broadly authorizes all manner  
              of funding be considered for any and all investments that  
              reduce GHG emissions from transportation, housing, energy,  
              water, manufacturers, and local governments, and therefore  
              can easily be interpreted to include 'traffic signal  
              synchronization' programs under existing law."  
            8) Policy questions  . 
               a)    Proven method to reduce GHGs  ?  Although traffic  
                 synchronization projects have shown some success in  
                 smaller cities, it is not clear that they are a universal  
                 method to lower GHGs.

              This raises the question: If the goal of traffic  
                 synchronization is to improve road capacity, and increased  
                 road capacity means more cars can travel, is this an  
                 appropriate strategy to use on its own for reducing GHG  

              In Europe, where GHG targets have been ratified under the  
                 Kyoto Protocol, cities have moved away from traffic  
                 synchronization.  Instead, cities are trying to  


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                 incentivize more environmentally-friendly modes of  
                 transportation, like biking or public transportation, by  
                 disincentivizing driving.

              Do traffic light synchronization projects independently  
                 reduce GHGs, or is it necessary to consider the broader  
                 scope of traffic planning?  And is it appropriate for the  
                 Legislature to designate individual projects?

               b)    Is this bill necessary  ?  Currently, California statute  
                 provides for several broad categories that are appropriate  
                 for cap-and-trade funding.  In addition, the Department of  
                 Finance has already developed an investment plan for the  
                 allocation of funds.

              The requirements on AB 32 funds already permit the  
                 development of sustainable community strategies.  If a  
                 traffic signal synchronization project has demonstrable  
                 benefits for reducing GHG emissions, or if it is part of a  
                 broader effort to address GHG emissions (such as a project  
                 in combination with a bike lane), then it is already  
                 eligible for AB 32 funding.  What does this bill  
                 accomplish that is not already provided for under AB 32?
             9) Double Referral to Senate Transportation & Housing Committee  .  
               This measure was heard in Senate Transportation & Housing   
               Committee on June 10, 2014, and passed out of committee with  
              a vote of 10-0.

            SOURCE  :        Author  

           SUPPORT  :       Advantec Consulting Engineers
                          American Society for Civil Engineers
                          Automobile Club of Southern California
                          City of Albany, Vice Mayor Joanne Wile
           City of Belmont, City Manager
                          City of Clovis, Dept. of Planning and Development  
                          City of Dublin, City Manager
                          City of Fairfield, Public Works Department
                          City of Monterey, City Hall
                          City of Sacramento, Vice Mayor Jay Schenirer


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                          Institute of Transportation Engineers, Inc.
                          PHA Transportation Consultants
                          San Mateo County Transportation Authority
                          TJKM Transportation Consultants
                          1 Individual
            OPPOSITION  :    California Chamber of Commerce
                          California League of Food Processors
                          California Manufacturers & Technology Association
                          California Municipal Utilities Association
                          California Tax Payers Association