We’re Challenging Phase I, and Your Comments are Needed for Phase II

Construction is slated to begin on Phase I next month; but it is not going unchallenged.  The Alameda Creek Alliance has hired an attorney, who has sent a letter to Caltrans outlining why Phase I of the project is chock full of violations.  If you would like to support the effort to defend Niles Canyon through the court system, please consider sending a donation to the Alameda Creek Alliance at P.O. Box 2626, Niles, CA 94536.  Since the A.C.A. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, contributions are tax deductible.

In the meantime, Caltrans is reopening the Comment Period for Phase II of the Niles Canyon Road Widening Project for 45-days beginning next Monday, May 23, 2011).  Approximately 440 trees are slated for removal in Phase II, including the old grove of eucalyptus featured in so many silent film movies.  (By contrast, 98 trees were removed in preparation for Phase I construction work).  Caltrans’ e-mail with information about who to contact can be viewed below.  When you send your letters to Caltrans, please word them in the form of questions, so Caltrans is obliged to provide an answer.  Remember, they can ignore how you feel; but they have to answer your questions.

In response to public concern, Caltrans is investigating whether it is possible to modify the Niles Canyon Safety Improvement Project in order to further reduce environmental impacts.

Caltrans invites public participation in the process through:

An Extended 45-Day Comment Period Beginning May 23 Caltrans will solicit additional input from the public in determining the possible scope of a modified project. Comment can be emailed to
nilescanyonprojects@dot.ca.gov or sent by postal mail to Caltrans District 4, Attn: V. Shearer, PO Box 23660 MS 8B, Oakland, CA 94623-0660. Comment must be received by 5:00 PM on July 7, 2011.

The current draft environmental document is available online at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/documents/nilescanyon.  Hard copies or compact disks may be obtained by sending your name and mailing address to the above address.

Stakeholder Committees
Caltrans will form stakeholder committees comprising representatives of permitting agencies, local government, and involved organizations, that will review and comment on proposed design changes and updated studies, and formulate strategies for balancing traffic safety and environmental impact.  Representatives of local elected officials will be invited. Stakeholders will meet before the new comment period for for a kickoff meeting. After the comment period, they will review traffic studies and the revised design.

Next Steps
After Caltrans considers public and stakeholder input and determines the scope of the modified project, we can then reassess whether additional studies are needed. Responses to comments received on the draft will be part of the final environmental document.

The document referred to is at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/nilescanyon/

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