CALTRANS Hearing in Sunol Tonight (3/23)

Caltrans Hearing on Alameda Creek Bridge Project – March 23

Caltrans has released a draft Environmental Impact Report for the Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement Project in Niles Canyon. Caltrans is proposing to replace the Alameda Creek Bridge and realign the eastern and western approaches to the bridge on SR-84.

Caltrans will hold an additional public open forum in Sunol to solicit comments on the draft EIR on Monday, March 23, from 6 to 8 PM at the Sunol Glen School, 11601 Main Street in Sunol. A brief presentation on the project will be given at 6:30 PM The public can ask questions about the project and provide comments.

The draft EIR is online at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/nilescanyon/

Caltrans is taking public comments on the draft EIR until April 3. The Alameda Creek Alliance has an active action alert on this project and a sample letter for those wishing to submit comments.

Tell Caltrans that replacing and upgrading the Alameda Creek Bridge does not require overbuilt roadway approaches and the bridge segment can be made safer without massive cut-and-fill or removing hundreds of trees

Submit Comments On Caltrans’ Proposed Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement Project

Caltrans has released a draft Environmental Impact Report for the Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement Project, a purported safety project. The Federal Highway Administration has identified four other accident hot-spots within Niles Canyon in need of safety improvement that are higher priority projects than the Alameda Creek Bridge.

Yet this Caltrans project is anything but a simple bridge replacement. The project would replace the existing 87-year old bridge with a new bridge, adding modern safety railings and road shoulders on the bridge for bicyclist and motorist safety, addressing the higher than average number of crashes at this bridge. All well and good, but in typical Caltrans fashion, the project does not stop there.

Caltrans claims the bridge must be engineered to increase motorist speeds from 35 to 45 mph, and that the entire roadway through the .6 mile project reach must be widened to 42 feet, with shoulders. Caltrans’ overbuilt approach would realign the roadway approaches on both sides of the bridge and increase the curve radius to 175 meters, requiring realignment of 1,400 feet of roadway for the western approach and from 300 to 1,190 feet of new roadway on the eastern approach. Construction would damage significant areas of the canyon with hundreds to thousands of feet of cut-and-fill and large concrete retaining walls, both above the roadway and adjacent to Alameda Creek. It would also require cutting from 284 to 414 native trees.

Caltrans has not considered an alternative that would replace the bridge at the current speed of 35 mph, which would scale back the tree cutting and other severe environmental impacts. Caltrans’ approach would actually increase motorist speeds though the project reach and could actually reduce motorist safety. The proposed project does not include many proven traffic calming measures that would make the bridge safer at 35 mph, such as the use of flashing and traffic lights, rumble strips, radar feedback signs, and other passive speed control measures.

Caltrans acknowledges that it has not even begun, let alone completed, mitigation for the tree-cutting in lower Niles Canyon in 2011, when the agency cut 150 native trees along Alameda Creek.

The proposed bridge replacement project does contains some environmentally beneficial elements, including removal of a concrete weir in Alameda Creek which currently serves as a barrier to fish passage, removal of the existing bridge’s in-stream piers, and removal of invasive plants.

The draft EIR and a Natural Environment Study are posted on Caltrans’ Niles Canyon website

Comments on the DEIR are due by April 3.

Caltrans will hold an additional public hearing on the project on Monday, March 23, from 6-8 pm, at the Sunol Glen School in Sunol.

Learn more about this issue on our Protecting Niles Canyon page

Tell Caltrans that replacing and upgrading the Alameda Creek Bridge does not require overbuilt roadway approaches and that the bridge segment can be made safer without massive cut-and-fill or removing hundreds of trees.

Here is a sample comment letter

Send an e-mail to:
nilescanyonprojects@dot.ca.gov

Or write a letter to:
Caltrans District 4
Attn: Elizabeth White
111 Grand Avenue MS 8B
Oakland, CA 94612

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