Now the infamous California Ghost Train to Nowhere is talking about laying tracks between Bakersfield and San Jose instead of Bakersfield to L.A. because it's cheaper than tunneling through the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains to the south. But talk is cheap. Show me the money!
Caltrans says it has stopped some 90 percent of water leaks causing corrosion into the east span of the east span of the Bay Bridge -- with $100,000 worth of industrial-grade caulk to the joint between the asphalt road surface and the guardrails. Lisa Fulton, a Berkeley corrosion expert, said she is encouraged that Caltrans appears to have gotten a handle on the water problem. “Maybe they got something right this time — but we will have to wait and see.” (See the full story at the link above.)
In the Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) challenge to Caltrans’ highway widening EIR, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Weiner has not issued a final decision. Recently, PSC notified Judge Weiner of a new California Supreme Court decision that is relevant to this case. The new California Supreme Court decision is Center For Biological Diversity v. California Department Of Fish And Wildlife (Newhall Land And Farming Company), 62 Cal.4th 204 (2015) (“Newhall”). Judge Weiner has ordered PSC and defendants to file supplemental 10-page briefs in January 2016 regarding this new decision and how it affects the issues in PSC's case.
PSC believes that the Newhall decision is relevant to PSC’s claim that Caltrans violated the law by certifying an EIR, which failed to consider, or determine the significance of, greenhouse gas emission impacts when the EIR impermissibly claimed any determination of the significance of greenhouse gas emission impacts were “too speculative.”
In addition, the California Supreme Court in Newhall recognized that “fully protected species” are subject to stricter prohibitions under the Fish and Game Code than provided under the Endangered Species Act, and that any “take” (i.e., killing or capturing) of fully protected species is against the law. The San Francisco garter snake is a fully protected species present on and around the Caltrans proposed widening project. PSC believes the Newhall decision is relevant to its argument that the EIR was legally inadequate because it did not disclose that the snake is a fully protected species for which any take is prohibited. The PSC notice and Judge Weiner's order are at the links below:
Will Caltrans ever complete the San Pedro Creek bridge project on Highway 1? This thing has dragged on for months now, and it doesn't look like anything is happening out there anymore, with guardrails and shoulders still unfinished and El Nino storms on the way. It's now a critical public safety issue. After all the excitement about finishing the bridge on time, then a premature grand opening, and now this sloppy, slow anticlimax. Talk about your postcoital dysphoria! What the hell are the coneheads waiting for? Will it take deaths and injuries to spur them to action? Everyone should call Caltrans and the City of Pacifica to demand speedy completion of the bridge project.
Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) and Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A) brought suit against Caltrans for violations of federal environmental protection laws. Caltrans asked to have this suit dismissed. A hearing on November 19, 2015 and a ruling issued today have resulted in Caltrans failing in its efforts to persuade the federal judge to dismiss most of the claims by PSC and PH1A. Although the judge ruled against PSC and PH1A on a few claims, most claims remain viable in the case, and the case will proceed. The judge referred to some of Caltrans’ arguments as “nitpicking.”
The judge is requiring that some claims be stated more specifically. PSC and PH1A will amend their claims to provide more details of Caltrans’ violations of the Endangered Species Act and Section 4(f) of the Federal Highway Transportation Act. PSC and PH1A’s claims of Caltrans’ violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Coastal Zone Management Act will also go forward.
This was not a ruling on the merits of the case. The judge simply said that PSC and PH1A need to amend the complaint to add more details. Attorneys for PSC and PH1A are already at work on amending the complaint to include voluminous information about how Caltrans violated the Endangered Species Act, how the consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was flawed, and how the Section 4(f) analysis was inadequate.
For updates as the case proceeds, go to PH1A’s website ph1a-pacifica.weebly.com or PHwy1A on Facebook.
How do you spell relief? C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S. After months and months of noisy overflights and lots of complaints to SFO, three Bay Area Congressional representatives (Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo, and Sam Farr) have persuaded the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to rethink the unpopular new NextGen flight pattern, which has turned formerly quiet neighborhoods into Thunder Alley. NextGen was adopted to save time and fuel for the airlines (and the environment), but the Feds forgot to consider lifestyle impact on airport neighbors all across the country. Pacifica was particularly hard-hit as SFO takeoffs flew directly over P-Town with greater frequency. Expect to see and hear some changes soon, as promised by the FAA.
Roy Schneider of Milwaukee, owner of Leon's Frozen Custard, also owns this 1936 Stout Scarab, a model often called the first minivan. Schneider says: "William B. Stout was a Michigan-based inventor, best remembered for building the first all-metal airplane and a portable folding house, one of which I own. In the 1930s, he turned his attention to the auto industry with his Stout Scarab, of which nine were made. His goal: to build a car of the future. It was no bigger than a normal car on the outside, with twice the room inside. It had flush window glass and fenders incorporated into the body, so it would drive without wind noise. It had a table, moving chairs, and three cigar lighters." (Photos: Sara Stathas for The Wall Street Journal)
Top: Peter Loeb, Chaya Gordon. Bottom: Cynthia Kaufman, Deni Asnis
Local voters swamped the Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A) Fogfest booth September 26-27. More than 300 registered voters signed up to help PH1A educate the public with accurate information based on Caltrans highway-widening plan data. PH1A supports alternatives to the plan and advocates for an independent study that incorporates Intelligent Transportation technology and a multifaceted approach to reducing congestion and making improvements to Highway 1. (Story and photos by Leo Leon)