Alameda Bridge Replacement Project- Caltrans Releases Draft EIR for Public Comment

Below is an excerpt from the just released Draft EIR of a proposed Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement project. The excerpt describes the key reference points, dates for meetings and timeframe for submitting comments on the Draft EIR. The Draft document is too large (331 pages) to upload into our system but is accessible for download via the Caltrans Webpage. Please note the 23 Feb public meeting in Niles and the 20 March deadline for comments to Caltrans.
As comments / points/ concerns are identified they will be posted to this webpage FYI.
Reminders about the public meeting and the deadline for comments will be issued using the Niles Canyon Yahoo e mail group.
** *** *** *** *** ***

What’s in this document:
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has prepared this Draft
Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which examines the potential environmental
impacts of the alternatives being considered for the proposed project located in Alameda
County, California. Caltrans is the lead agency under the California Environmental
Quality Act (CEQA). The document tells you why the project is being proposed, what
alternatives we have considered for the project, how the existing environment could be
affected by the project, the potential impacts of each of the alternatives, and the proposed
avoidance, minimization, and/or mitigation measures.
What you should do:
•Please read this document.
•This document is available in electronic format at:
January 2015 Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (60MB)
•Additional copies of this document and the related technical studies are available for
review at:
•Caltrans District 4, 111 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94612
•Niles Library, 150 I Street, Fremont, CA 94536
•Fremont Main Library, 2400 Stevenson Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94538
•Pleasanton Library, 400 Old Bernal Avenue, Pleasanton, CA 94566
•Attend the public meeting scheduled for:
Monday, February 23, 2015 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Niles Elementary School
37141 2nd Street
Fremont, CA 94536
•We’d like to hear what you think. If you have any comments about the proposed
project, please attend the public meeting and/or send your written comments to
Caltrans by the deadline.
•Send comments via postal mail to:
Oliver Iberien, Environmental Branch Chief, Attention: Elizabeth White
Department of Transportation, Office of Environmental Analysis
111 Grand Avenue, MS 8B
Oakland, CA 94612
•Send comments via email to: nilescanyonprojects@dot.ca.gov.

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Community Meeting Notes From 27 Jan 2015 – Report on the status of the Trail Feasibility Study to date.

A second public meeting to discuss a proposed multiuse trail through the Niles Canyon was held on 27 January 2015 in Niles / Fremont. The meeting topics included discussion of three projects. 1) establishing a trail link between Niles and the Bay Ridge trail in particular crossing the rail track used by the Niles Canyon Railroad 2) the multiuse trail through the canyon 3) a trail between Sunol and the Vargas Plateau. The multiuse trail through the canyon was the topic of primary interest to the attendees. The meeting was well attended and the sponsors of the trail feasibility study (East Bay Parks, Alameda County, San Francisco Water & Power, Alameda County Water District) acknowledged their appreciation for the community interest and support. Posted on this website is the presentation which was prepared by the firm BFK Engineers who are conducting the feasibility study. The presentation contains the options for the three separate but related projects. The objective of the community meeting was to display the options and obtain community feedback, questions and comments which could be factored into the continuing work on the project(s).
The following points summarize items mentioned during the meeting:
• The multiuse concept allows for cyclists, walkers, and horse riders to use the trail. Questions arose about the interaction of the three user modes and the view was generally they could navigate the trail which would be 10 ft. wide paved and 2 ft. wide on each side unpaved. However If the trail uses the existing concrete aqueduct as suggested at several locations of the three options it might be confined to 10 ft. wide.
• The PPP contains several dashboard type slides providing a preliminary sense of the pros and cons (e.g. high risk, high expense) for the options.
• The Sunol to Vargas Plateau link would not be paved.
• One suggestion was to close the Niles Canyon Road for a Saturday in April and open it to cyclists, hikers, walkers and horse riders so they could explore the canyon on a more first-hand basis but without the traffic. This way they could better understand all the canyon has to offer and likely offer more constructive comments. The audience seemed very supportive of the suggestion but the meeting organizers did not appear to make any commitments. Probably because the canyon road is a Caltrans responsibility.
• Members of the audience asked when the trail would be built and the spokesperson from BFK explained that this is just the feasibility study. Before any commitment is made towards building the trails funding, a project sponsor (s) and an implementation plan must be must be identified. No date for completion can therefore be projected at this time.
• One suggestion was to engage environmental and interest groups early on so that their views can be factored in. The BFK representative explained that a list of stakeholder groups was assembled and they have been encouraged to have a representative at all events and their views have been solicited.
• One comment asked whether there is any link between the Caltrans intent to widen Niles Canyon Road and the trail initiative. The answer was no however Caltrans has been included as a stakeholder and has participated in several activities including the October 2014 Trail walk. Caltrans is planning to issue a proposed rebuilding plan for the Alameda Creek Bridge and hopefully they can integrate some steps into that plan which will support the trail project.
• The sponsors of the feasibility study were asked why they packaged the three together when in fact each is a separate project and the Niles Canyon Trail is the one of primary interest. A spokesperson for East Bay Parks explained that the reason they are packaged together is because of connectivity. Connecting the ridge trail to the Multiuse trail will allow for connectivity to trails like the Ironhorse trail in Walnut Creek.
• The multiuse trail if built would in essence become an extension of the existing Alameda Creek trail that currently runs from the Bay to Niles.
Comments can be directed to Chris Miley in the Office of Richard Valle, Supervisor District 2 at:
The PPP used during the meeting is available below or at the Alameda County Webpage, Supervisor Valle, Initiative
2014.01.27-Community-Meeting-2

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Stakeholders Participate in Trail walk through Niles Canyon

As part of the development of a Feasibility and Preliminary Engineering Study for a multiuse trail through Niles Canyon, Alameda County District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle arranged a trail walk among representatives of stakeholder groups through portions of the canyon. The trail walk took place on November 21, 2014 and was well attended. The delivery of the final feasibility study plan is still in the future however we have posted for information purposes the walk itinerary and notes from the walk.

Regarding the Caltrans plans for replacement of the Alameda Creek Bridge along Niles Canyon Road a check with the Project Coordinator at Caltrans Dist. 4 indicates that they currently expect to publish the Draft EIR/EIS in the January-February 2015 timeframe.

Below please find links to the Trail Walk Notes as well as the Walk Itinerary.
Notes from the Niles Canyon Trail Walk v3
NilesCanyonTrail_Itinerary(1)

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Caltrans Completes the Scoping Process for the Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement- Next steps

Caltrans held two public scoping meetings where attendees were provided insight into the Transportations Department’s initial thinking on the replacement of the Alameda Creek bridge which is an integral part of the Niles Canyon Road. The meetings were held on February 25 and March 4, 2014. Public attendance was not at record levels but these types of meetings are very preliminary and Caltrans did not distribute pre-read materials for review. A point worth mentioning is that attending a meeting about an important public works project ($40M estimated cost) and being asked to provide comments on what is important and what should be addressed as part of the Environmental Review process without any insight into the nature and scope of the project does not appeal to lots of people. That said Caltrans has updated their Webpage for the project to include details from the Dec 2013 Stakeholder meeting and the two scoping meetings. The Alameda Creek Alliance and the Save Niles Canyon Grassroots group have submitted scoping meeting comments to Caltrans and those comments are published on this webpage FYI.
The next step in the Caltrans process will be to publish a draft environmental report for public comment. They have targeted late 2014 to make the draft public for comment.
We will keep you posted.
SNC Points for Scoping Process v3
ACA initial scoping comments 2-26-14
Stakeholder Meeting Notes- 05 Dec 2013

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Caltrans Explains their Plan for the Rebuilding of the Alameda Creek Bridge.

Caltrans held the second Route 84 (Niles Canyon Road) Stakeholder meeting on 27 March 2013 to review their concept for the rebuilding of the Alameda Creek Bridge
over Alameda Creek.  The bridge is currently 2 lanes with no bicycle or pedestrian accommodation and reduced speed limits are posted.  The initial plans for
this rebuilding had been developed prior to the dissolution of their original 3
Phase project plan for widening Niles Canyon Road but had not previously been
presented to the public.

In summary Caltrans developed 4 scenarios for rebuilding the bridge but have
selected one which they see as preferred and according to statements made
during the Stakeholder meeting they would not pursue the other three. At the
time (4/8) of posting this report the visual depictions of the 4 bridge rebuild
scenarios are not available however Caltrans indicated they intended to post
them on their Route 84 Project Webpage.

A key aspect of each of the 4 scenarios for the bridge rebuild was Caltrans
intention to do so in a manner which allowed for a 45 MPH vehicle speed limit.
This aspect drew considerable discussion especially when representatives from
Stakeholder groups suggested Caltrans engineer a scenario which provides for a
lower speed limit- 35 MPH. Such a scenario might also reduce environmental
impact. Caltrans staff explained that they must build to their highway
standards which call for a speed limit consistent with the rest of the road. It
was pointed out that there are other sections of the road where speed limits
are below 45 MPH.

As the meeting closed Caltrans indicated they would accept the suggestion for consideration.

The next Stakeholder meeting will likely be planned for late summer 2013- July or August.

Unofficial meeting notes are posted to this webpage for information.

http://www.wisdomwitch.com/savenilescanyon/?attachment_id=929 – Agenda & Handout

http://www.wisdomwitch.com/savenilescanyon/?attachment_id=934 – Unofficial Mtg Notes

 

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Niles Canyon Road Stakeholder Meeting of 27 Feb 2013- Caltrans outlines the process they plan to follow.

On Wednesday 27 February Caltrans held a Stakeholders meeting as the first step in their Clean Slate approach to implementing safety improvements to Niles Canyon Road. Save Niles Canyon (SNC), along with other Stakeholders attended. The meeting was primarily focused on the process Caltrans intends to follow as they re-group after the 2011 lawsuit stopped their work on the previous Phase 1 safety improvement project. During the meeting Caltrans staff were informative and cordial as they outlined their current plans / thinking on what needs to be done to make the Niles Canyon Road-Route 84 scenic highway safer for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Most of the project work outlined by Caltrans staff was drawn from the Road Safety Assessment (RSA) reports issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) based on the review and analysis they conducted in 2012. The material discussed at the Dec 10, 2012 public meeting set the stage for the agenda. The handouts and meeting notes from this meeting are posted for your ready reference. Caltrans has proposed another Stakeholder meeting tentatively for 27 March.

To start the meeting Caltrans listed what they saw as the common themes which came from the 10 December 2012 meeting and subsequent public comments on the FHA’s RSA reports. SNC was one of 12 groups which sent an 11 page letter of comments to Caltrans on the RSA reports. Alameda Creek Alliance spearheaded that letter. For example there was public concern expressed about any additional tree removal and members of the public felt that more effort should be given to traffic calming measures in conjunction with speed management /enforcement.

Caltrans staff then outlines the four part process they intend to follow.

The first step is to initiate five short term Countermeasures to improve safety. These five measures require no environmental review, require no special budget allocations and were agreed upon by all the Stakeholder representatives who attended the meeting. An example is to eliminate the passing zones adjacent to low-speed curves.

Second Caltrans will propose a three part project which will include specific solutions at two locations which are viewed as needing safety upgrades. In particular the Rosewarnes Union Pacific (UP) Bridge and the Farwell UP Bridge / Palomares Road will be addressed. The modifications to these locations along the canyon road were identified in the FHA RSA reports as medium-term countermeasures for safety improvement. In addition the project package will include a proposal to use steel-mesh netting on steep slope areas to prevent rockslides.

Third Caltrans will propose a five part project package which will be a mix of short and medium term countermeasures. Among the steps in this package is a proposal to remove fixed objects adjacent to the canyon road. A large number of trees are identified as fixed objects. Caltrans stated that they want public review and comment on any tree removal proposal and the stakeholder representatives agreed with that thinking. This package will include intersection improvements at the Route 84/Pleasanton/Sunol Road intersection. When this was discussed the Sunol representative asked for some more immediate relief from commuter cut through in their town and Caltrans indicated they would arrange to visit Sunol sooner and meet with the community to discuss the possibilities.

Fourth Caltrans will propose replacement of the Alameda Creek Bridge. This step was an element in the now defunct three part Route 84 Safety upgrade however Caltrans ideas for the replacement were not previously publicized for comment.

The second, third and fourth steps will require Caltrans to meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements.

Caltrans stated that they intend to monitor the improvements made in step one before implementing the next three steps. When asked they stated their monitoring period would not exceed three years however upon further questions by Stakeholders they indicated they are flexible on the monitoring time period and it can be longer. Stakeholders suggested a 5 year minimum.

Next steps- Caltrans asked if the stakeholder representatives could attend another meeting in a month so that a presentation on the Alameda Creek Bridge replacement could be made. As noted the plans for the bridge replacement (project four above) were being worked on at the time the Caltrans agreed to settle the lawsuit and cease their road widening activities therefore public comment was not obtained. The stakeholder representatives agreed to tentatively meet on March 27 with Caltrans about the bridge replacement matter but this meeting would not be a substitute for full CEQA review.

Caltrans anticipates the next Stakeholder meeting to discuss the second and third projects to occur during the summer of 2013.

Posted to this webpage are the handouts from the 27 February meeting and Notes Prepared by Mike Dubinsky who attended on behalf of the Save Niles Canyon Group

The handouts are:

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Public Meeting of Dec 10, 2012 with Caltrans Indicates That They are Listening

About 100 citizens, A Fremont City Council member and representatives from several legislators’ offices attended the December 10, 2012 meeting arranged by
Caltrans to obtain initial public input on the Report of the Federal Highway
Administration and the Final Quantitative Road Safety Analysis Study Report concerning
safety on Niles Canyon Road (NCR) between Niles and Sunol.  The official titles of the reports are:
1.Road Safety Assessment (RSA), SR84 – Niles Canyon Corridor Alameda Co., California,
May 2012. (40 pages) It was prepared by the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA) at the request of Caltrans.

2.Final Quantitative Road Safety Analysis Study Report- An Integrated Value Analysis (VA)/Road Safety Review Process, SR 84 – Niles Canyon Road Corridor, August 2012. (222 pages) It was prepared by an outside consultant group under contract to Caltrans.

Both of these reports along with other current materials pertinent to the ongoing
Caltrans review of safety in the Niles Canyon Road Corridor can be found at Caltrans’ webpage.   http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/nilescanyon/

The meeting was moderated by Ron Kiaana, the Caltrans Project Manager for the SR-84
Niles Canyon Safety Improvements Project. A copy of the PP presentation used by Mr. Kianna is posted at the listed webpage.  Besides a brief review of the history of the project, especially for the last two years, Mr. Kianna made the following points.

  • Caltrans was operating from a clean slate. The previous three phase set of project plans were set aside
  • Caltrans intended to work with residents and local jurisdictions every step of the way in a transparent manner.
  • The RSA & VA reports list several levels of safety improvements which can be pursued in a phased manner.

A significant portion of the meeting was allocated to the attendees to voice
their views on the two reports. Residents from Fremont/Niles, Sunol, Union
City, The Sunol Citizens Advisory Committee, Save Niles Canyon, Citizen’s Committee
to Complete the Refuge, Save our Sunol, LEAF and the Alameda Creek Alliance
presented comments. Three central themes emerged from the attendee’s comments:
a) the reports identified specific locations along the NCR which could benefit
from some safety upgrades; b) Caltrans should initially consider applying a
number of appropriate safety upgrade suggestions, i.e. least disruptive and
most economical, from the 2 reports (the Short Term Improvement Measures); and
c) Caltrans needs to monitor the impact of the appropriate short term measures
over time, e.g. ten years, before considering additional more complex fixes.

In summary the meeting was viewed as positive by those in attendance however a lingering concern remains given the past attitude and approach used by
Caltrans.  This lingering concern was highlighted when a Niles resident asked Caltrans if one of their short term improvement measures- Relocate select
fixed objects immediately adjacent to roadway-
included cutting down trees.
Caltrans responded that it did but only trees within a short distance of the
roadway.  However Caltrans (Ron Kiaana) promised to discuss all such steps with the public prior to taking any action.

A very complete news report on the meeting can be found in the Fremont Bulletin of December 28, 2012 http://www.mercurynews.com/fremont/ci_22274242/caltrans-proposes-improvements-niles-canyon-road

Caltrans has indicated that they will continue to accept public comments on the two
reports and the meeting presentation until 15 January 2013.  Therefore
you still have an opportunity to provide input should you wish to do so.

The Alameda Creek Alliance, serving as the lead for a Coalition of 12 organizations
sent a letter to Caltrans on 1 January 2013.  A copy of the letter is posted on
the Alameda Creek Alliance webpage. You can access the ACA webpage uisng the link provided under LINKS. Go to the Niles Canyon topic and click on January 2013 Coalition Letter. You are welcome to reference it in any written comments you make to Caltrans.

The next step will be for Caltrans to coordinate a meeting among stakeholders in
the project for late January or early February 2013. Save Niles Canyon group
sends representatives to stakeholder meetings.

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Caltrans Schedules Public Meeting for 10 Dec in Fremont – FHA Road Safety Assessment

Below is a message sent from Caltrans announcing a special public meeting on Dec 10 at the Fremont Senior Citizen’s Center to hear comments on a Road Safety Assessment (RSA)conducted earlier this year on Niles Canyon Road (NCR) from Niles to Sunol.  This date and place is a change from the original meeting time/place.  As you may recall the Caltrans plans for widening NCR were stopped in late 2011 by a court order. The RSA was conducted by the Federal Highway Administration. You can access additional information at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Niles_Canyon/?prop=eupdate

I encourage you to review the FHA reports (they are lengthy) and attend the meeting on the 10th. It is important for Caltrans to know that the public continues to follow and track the NCR activities, especially those directed at possibly doing harm to the scenic highway.
Mike Dubinsky, Save Niles Canyon Group.
______________________________________________________________________
Text of the 11/26/2012 Caltran’s e mail message to Stakeholders:

______________________________________________________________
UPDATE: The date and location of the public
meeting have been changed.  It will now be held on Monday, December 10 at
7:00 PM at the Fremont Senior Center.
Good Afternoon,

We wanted to provide you with updated information regarding the upcoming public
meeting.  Caltrans will hold a meeting on Monday, December 10 at 7 pm to
give the public an opportunity to provide feedback on the Road Safety
Assessment (RSA) and the Value Analysis Study final reports for State Route
84/Niles Canyon.  These reports are available on the Caltrans website at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/nilescanyon/

In response to public concern about planned safety projects in Niles Canyon,
Caltrans invited a panel of traffic-safety experts from the Federal Highway
Administration to perform an independent Road Safety Assessment (RSA) on State
Route 84. Additionally, a Value Analysis Team also examined the data and
developed safety-solution concepts based on the recommendations of the RSA.
Presentations containing preliminary information from these studies were
given to the public on July 30 and are also available on the Caltrans website
at the address listed above.

Caltrans is inviting the public to review the RSA and the Value Analysis final
reports and to provide feedback on these two studies.  The public meeting
will be held at:

Fremont Senior Center

40086 Paseo Padre Parkway

Fremont, CA 94537

Monday December 10, 2012

7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Caltrans remains committed to keeping you informed and soliciting your feedback
throughout the planning process for any safety improvements on State Route 84.

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Niles Canyon II Open House Meetings

Please find below a cut-and-paste from Caltrans’ invitation to its Open House Meetings regarding Phase II.  Don’t forget to submit your comments to NilesCanyonProjects@dot.ca.gov by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 5, 2011.

We are inviting you to attend one of the three meetings listed below to review the original project designs and the proposed changes. You will have an opportunity at the meeting to officially submit your written comments on the project before the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report closes on Friday, August 5, 2011.

Sunol Glen School Auditorium
11601 Main Street
Sunol, CA 94586
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
7 pm – 9 pm
***********************************
Union City – City Hall
34009 Alvarado-Niles Road
Union City, CA 94587
Thursday, July 28, 2011
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
***********************************
Fremont Main Library
2400 Stevenson Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94538
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
7 pm – 9 pm

Individuals who require special accommodation (American Sign Language interpreter, accessible seating, documentation in alternative formats, etc.) are requested to contact the District Public Affairs Office, at 510-286-4444 at least 5 days prior to the scheduled meeting date. TDD users may contact the California Relay Service TDD line at 1-800-735-2929 or Voice Line at 1-800-735-2922.

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July 17 – Film, Dinner and Silent Auction Fundraiser for Lawsuit to Protect Niles Canyon

Sunday, July 17 – Save the date!

Join the Alameda Creek Alliance and Save Niles Canyon at a benefit for our campaign to Save Niles Canyon on Sunday, July 17 beginning at 5 pm.

Enjoy dinner, drinks and a movie at the Silent Film Museum (37417 Niles Blvd.) in Niles. The feature film is the acclaimed documentary River of Renewal, which tells the story of conflict over the resources of California and Oregon’s Klamath Basin and the struggle to restore the Klamath River salmon runs. Producer Steve Most will attend the screening and answer questions after the film.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Ticket price includes dinner of salad and lasagna. Doors open at 5 pm, dinner is at 6 pm, film showing is at 7 pm. Come early for complimentary appetizers and beverages and to view and bid on our fabulous silent auction items. Wine will be available by the glass for a small donation.

Jeff Miller, the Executive Director of the Alliance Creek Alliance, and Save Niles Canyon activists will give a brief update on the fight to protect Niles Canyon before the film.

All proceeds will go toward legal efforts to protect Niles Canyon, specifically to fund our lawsuit challenging the Caltrans highway widening project.

Please RSVP to Rich Cimino (yellowbilledtours AT gmail DOT com) by July 13, and state dinner preference – meat or vegetarian. Please contact Rich to donate a silent auction item, trip or vacation getaway!

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