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:

Posted in Misc | Comments Off on Niles Canyon Road Stakeholder Meeting of 27 Feb 2013- Caltrans outlines the process they plan to follow.

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.

Posted in Misc | Comments Off on Public Meeting of Dec 10, 2012 with Caltrans Indicates That They are Listening

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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Judge Halts Niles Canyon Road Widening Project

Court Issues Injunction; Legal Challenge to Caltrans’ Inadequate Environmental Review Will Proceed to Trial

In a victory for environmental protection and transparency in public agency decisions,Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch today issued a preliminary injunction barring Caltrans from initiating construction on the first phase of the controversial $80 million highway widening project in Niles Canyon along Alameda Creek.

In ruling that the Alameda Creek Alliance may proceed to trial challenging the inadequate environmental review for the Route 84 “Safety Improvement” project, the judge severely lambasted Caltrans’ clandestine project approval and obstruction of the public process. The ruling effectively prevents Caltrans from construction activities until February 2012, and could ultimately result in a ruling that an Environmental Impact Report must be prepared for the project.

Read today’s press release here

Help Us Celebrate

Come to the July 17 Film and Dinner Fundraiser for our Lawsuit to Protect Niles Canyon, in Niles

Join the Alameda Creek Alliance and Save Niles Canyon for dinner, drinks and a movie at the Silent Film Museum 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.

All proceeds will benefit the Alameda Creek Alliance’s efforts to protect Niles Canyon, to fund the lawsuit challenging the Caltrans highway widening project. Tickets are $25 – send a check to ACA or also available at the door.

Please RSVP to Rich Cimino by July 13.  To get Rich’s e-mail address, run all these words together: “yellow billed tours“, then add an “at” and a “gmail” dot c0m — sorry to make this difficult, but we don’t want Rich’s address to get harvested by spam bots.  More details coming soon.

Posted in Misc | Comments Off on Judge Halts Niles Canyon Road Widening Project

Please Attend Injunction Hearing on Thursday, 6/23/2011

The restraining order currently in effect to prevent Caltrans from starting construction on Phase I of the Niles Canyon Widening Project expires this Thursday (June 23, 2011).

At 9:00 a.m. (yes, this is a change from what we posted earlier) this Thursday, Judge Roesch is expected to rule whether to grant an injunction against further construction until the legal issue of whether an Environmental Impact report must be prepared for the project is resolved.  PLEASE SHOW UP IF YOU CAN.  We won’t be able to do any talking; but at least we can show the judge that the community cares about Alameda Creek.

Here’s the address:
Alameda Superior Court, Dept. 31
201 13th Street, 2nd Floor
Oakland, CA

Please note that  Alameda Superior Court is in the U.S.P.S. Building. Click here for directions, or take BART to the Lake Merritt station — the building is only four blocks away

If you are unable to come; but would still like to support the effort, consider coming to the upcoming film fundraiser for our legal efforts July 16-17, or donate to our legal fund. Click here for info about the benefit film showings. Send donation checks to ACA, P.O. Box 2626, Niles, CA 94536.

 

 

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Niles Canyon II Safety Improvement Project Comment Period has Re-Opened

Caltrans announces that it has officially reopened the review and comment
period for the Environmental Impact Report for the State Route 84 Niles
Canyon II Safety Improvement Project that was circulated for public review
in July 2010. Caltrans is now accepting comment until August 5, 2011.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is proposing a
safety-improvement project on State Route (SR) 84 in Niles Canyon, Alameda
Co., from 0.5 mile east of Palomares Road to the SR-84/Interstate 680
interchange in Sunol. Our records show that between 1999 and 2009, there
were 455 traffic collisions, 10 of which resulted in fatalities and 237 of
which resulted in injuries. Proposed safety improvements include 8-ft.
shoulders, center and shoulder rumble strips, and improved sight distances.
To make room, slopes will be cut back or filled in at several locations for
installation of approximately 1.8 miles of retaining walls.

As a member of the public, you may send comments to us about Caltrans
projects at any time. However, the official comment period is an
opportunity to have your comments recorded and addressed in the final
Environmental Document.

While you are able to voice your support or opposition for a project during
the official comment period, the most beneficial comments include the
following:

Specific alternatives or mitigation measures that would provide
better ways to avoid or mitigate any potential environmental effects
of the project
Concerns that are not previously addressed in the environmental
document
Inaccuracies or missing information
Statistical data or facts to support your concern

The public review process requires Caltrans to respond in the final
environmental document to these types of comments by making changes to the
final environmental document or the project design. If changes are not
possible, Caltrans is required to provide a detailed, good-faith, reasoned
explanation in the final environmental document.

Comments 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. Comments must be received by 5:00 PM on August 5, 2011.

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

Caltrans will form stakeholder committees comprised of representatives of
permitting agencies, local and state government officials, and involved
organizations. These committees will review and comment on proposed design
changes and updated studies. Additionally, they will propose strategies
for balancing traffic safety and environmental mitigation measures. Your
comments regarding this project will be considered during these committee
meetings.

We encourage you to share this information with anyone else you know who
may be interested in the project.

Useful links:

The CEQA Guidelines can currently be downloaded from the Association of
Environmental Professionals:
http://www.califaep.org/docs/CEQA/CEQAHandbook2011.pdf
California Scenic Highway Code:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=shc&group=00001-01000&file=260-284
Caltrans Standard Environmental Reference:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/ser/
FHWA Technical Advisory T 6640.8A “Guidance for Preparing and Processing
Environmental and Section 4(f) documents”:
http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/projdev/impTA6640.asp
Visual Impact Assessment for Highway Projects, FHWA Office of Environmental
Policy:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/ser/downloads/visual/FHWAVisualImpactAssmt.pdf
Safety Evaluation of Lane and Shoulder Width Combinations on Rural,
Two-Lane, Undivided Roads:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/09031/index.cfm
FHWA 4(f) Policy Paper
http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/4f/4fpolicy.asp

Posted in What can we do? | Comments Off on Niles Canyon II Safety Improvement Project Comment Period has Re-Opened

Editorial Cartoon by Angelo Lopez, The Tri-City Voice

The cartoon above is from page 15 of April 26, 2011 edition of the Tri-City Voice.  If you enjoyed Angelo’s work, please let the Tri-City Voice know.

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