I'm John Keener, Ph.D., research biochemist, small-business owner, and medical writer, now retired. My wife and I have lived in Pacifica for seven years. We were attracted to Pacifica by its many hiking trails, open spaces, and beautiful coastline.
I've made the Highway 1 widening plan the centerpiece of my campaign for Pacifica City Council. The 1.3-mile Caltrans project from the Fassler/Rockaway intersection to just north of the Vallemar intersection would add an additional lane in each direction to the existing four-lane highway.
In doing so, the proposed project would more than double the width of the roadway, from 64 feet to 144 feet, 12 feet wider than a typical eight-lane interstate freeway. Caltrans must acquire all or part of 27 parcels, including residential and business, to accommodate the increased highway footprint. Mature cypress trees lining the existing highway would be removed, and retaining walls up to 22 feet tall would be needed to stabilize cuts into hillsides.
I oppose the widening project because it wouldn't work to reduce traffic congestion during peak commute hours. This is because, at either end of the project, three lanes would merge back to the original two lanes in each direction, causing traffic jams. Other Caltrans widening projects have resulted in similar problems, notably in Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.
Funded mostly by San Mateo County Measure A funds derived from a half-cent surcharge on sales tax within the county, the current price tag of the Highway 1 widening proposal is estimated at $55 million. I question the use of taxpayer funds without adequate public input. Comments on the Environmental Impact Reports for the widening project that were inconsistent with Caltrans’ vision were rejected.
Caltrans approved its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) in August 2013. At this point, the decision on widening Highway 1 is a yes or no vote — no modifications are permitted to Caltrans' plan without starting over.
The major hurdle before construction could begin is a formal request by Pacifica City Council to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority for the $55 million needed to fund the project. I think such a request is a waste of taxpayer money on a design that won't alleviate congestion and is out of scale with community needs.
So I oppose funding the Caltrans plan. Instead, I support opening the process to the public and exploring alternative solutions that would effectively reduce traffic congestion on the Highway 1 corridor.
I'm running for one of three open seats on Pacifica City Council in November. More information about my positions on the highway widening and other issues may be found on my campaign website: