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PSC's Day in Court: Caltrans Talks of Frogs and Vertical Separation

By Peter Loeb, Riptide Correspondent

The PSC v. Caltrans hearing has concluded. Judge Marie Weiner has 90 days to issue a ruling. PSC's attorneys are Celeste Langille and Brian Gaffney. The opposing attorneys are Derek Van Hoften and Stacey Lau for Caltrans, Kevin Siegel for the City of Pacifica, and Adam Hoffman for the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA).

On August 22, the judge and the attorneys agreed to have Caltrans' attorney respond to some oral arguments Gaffney had presented. When Caltrans' attorney defended language in the environmental impact report (EIR) about "vertical separation" between northbound and southbound lanes, the judge asked what that meant. The attorney said it was not grade separation but that the roadway would be “tilted” to allow for views.

The judge did not understand, and questioned the attorney about it. The attorney acknowledged that the Final EIR doesn’t say anything about “vertical separation." Then he maintained that the red-legged frogs wouldn’t travel east of the highway at Calera Creek because they wouldn’t go through the culvert under the highway.

The judge questioned that assertion, but the attorney said it would be too dark in the culvert and too far to go, and that the frogs would die. The judge did not seem to accept this. (In fact, frogs have been documented in the creek east of the highway.)  

At the continued hearing on August 29, PSC's attorneys finished presenting their oral arguments, then Caltrans, the City of Pacifica, and SMCTA responded and the PSC attorneys rebutted. The judge now has 90 days to issue her ruling.

Comments

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Good one, Karen. :)

Tempted to wear a button on Friday saying "Frogs don't need flashlights." Apparently, the Caltrans lawyer never went camping as a kid.

May they continue to do so.

Caltrans attorneys made several clearly incorrect statements.

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