A new proposal in the California Senate would see the introduction of Autobahn-like highway lanes without any speed limits.
We all know about Germany's famous Autobahn, a network of highways with zero speed limits (for the most part) and very few fatalities. Now it seems that California wants to construct their own version on currently existing highway.
Senate Bill 319, introduced by Senator John Moorlach, proposes the addition of two lanes with no speed limits on Interstate Route 5 as well as State Route 99. These no-speed-limit lanes would be added to the respective highway's current lanes to alleviate congestion between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
"This bill would require the department to initiate a project to construct two additional traffic lanes on northbound and southbound Interstate Route 5 and State Route 99 and would prohibit the imposition of a maximum speed limit for those traffic lanes," reads the proposed legislation.
As Jalopnik points out, the proposal is mostly in response to ballooning costs with California's high-speed rail project. At the State of the State address, Governor Gavin Newsom revealed that costs associated with rail project have grown from $45 billion to $77 billion and that California will be trimming the scope of the project to merely complete the 171 miles of rail line from Merced to Bakersfield.
The no-limit highway lanes would be funded using the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund under the argument that reducing congestion would also reduce idle time and therefore reduce emissions. This is a strange juxtaposition to legislation currently being considered in Germany that argues in favor of speed limits in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, although it should be noted that the Autobahn suffers far less traffic congestion than California highways.
Responding to Jalopnik's request for comment, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said that the proposed California legislation is a bad idea.
"Drivers going too fast remains one of the biggest unsolved problems on our roads,” an IIHS spokesperson said. “More than 10,000 deaths occurred in speed-related crashes in the U.S. in 2016 alone. Many states have gone in the wrong direction by raising their speed limits. This proposal in California is dangerous in the extreme."
Additionally, no-limit highway lanes would only benefit drivers with cars fast enough to use them, whereas a high-speed rail line would benefit everyone in California.