In this election, Pacificans are voting for three open City Council seats. A new council could stop Caltrans' Calera Parkway project (i.e., widening Highway 1), hire consultants to study alternatives like roadbed sensors and synchronized traffic lights (much cheaper than widening the road), and hold public forums.
The old council majority did none of those things. Therefore, we urge you to vote for John Keener, Sue Digre, and Matt Dougherty, who oppose the widening. Note that several other City Council candidates who favor widening are backed by outside money, mainly from real estate organizations.
Here on Pacifica Riptide, we proudly endorse candidates we believe in, and we stand behind them and the public's right to know. We support free speech and freedom of the press, unencumbered by corporate political and economic agendas.
But cheer up. Here's some good news: See's Candy is coming to Linda Mar shopping center, according to a sign in the window. We hear that chocolate is a great stress reliever while you are stuck in traffic.
Pacifica Riptide welcomes back car columnist Bruce Hotchkiss.
Caltrans' San Pedro Creek bridge replacement project is going into hibernation to spare migrating steelhead and wandering red-legged frogs during the winter rainy season (ho ho ho), but the wildly unpopular detour past Pedro Point shopping center will continue to slow traffic flow and frustrate motorists for at least another year, and possibly into 2016. Bridge work resumes April 2015. (Source: Jane Northrop, Pacifica Tribune)
I was born in Pacifica and have lived here all my life. As a lover of the natural world, I have pitted myself over the years against any development that would not add to but only take away from the quality of life here on the coast.
Now we face what a growing number of Pacificans realize is the WORST AND STUPIDEST IDEA: widening Highway 1 between Rockaway and Vallemar. If you think the traffic mess at the Pedro Point bridge project has been rough, just wait. This massive construction project between two major stoplights at the center of town would go on for two years at the very least, and judging by how far off-schedule Caltrans has been on other projects (Devil's Slide Tunnels, Bay Bridge), it likely would be MUCH longer.
Thanks to Caltrans shutting out public commentary and railroading the review process, this mess is about to happen, something most coastsiders do not realize. And for what? Imagine, if you will, a section of 280, a freeway more than twice the width of Highway 1, bordered by 14-foot-high concrete walls—a freeway that encourages drivers to bypass local businesses and jockey for position as the lanes squeeze back down into the existing road.
Why is Caltrans so eager to transform Highway 1 into a freeway with bottlenecks at both ends? Is it so that demand for another section, and then another, would follow? NOTHING in this plan would improve commuter traffic! Even traffic consultants working with would-be quarry developer Don Peebles said this approach was expensive and useless.
Don't take my word for it. These pork barrel projects have been happening everywhere. Let's not make the same mistake! This article spells it out better than I can. Check out "Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse":
Bigger Is Not Better
Without support for transparency and a fair process in our own city government, this may be a done deal. A new City Council seems to be our only remaining recourse. Keener, Digre, and Dougherty are the candidates who have the backbone to say, "This makes no sense. It's WRONG for Highway 1." Without their votes and voices on council, this may be a done deal.
Alternatives that could actually address congestion have not been fully examined. Please contact Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives PH1A or on Facebook. Heads up, Pacifica. We are being railroaded, in the true meaning of the word.
"The problem is simply inadequate signage and signage placement. Three signs now warn of the detour ahead, one 100 feet before Crespi Avenue on the beach side of Highway 1 at ground level, which cannot be seen if a car is in front of it. One standard "Detour Ahead" sign is near the beach parking lot. The third is a lighted sign near Taco Bell about two car lengths ahead of the divided barrier that is causing traffic to squeeze in at the last minute, creating a bottleneck. This problem could be addressed easily by simply placing better signage well in advance of the detour, anywhere north of this area. At or before the Rockaway Beach intersection would be ideal."
Caltrans listened, adding two new lighted signs north of the detour. It still is a mess, but at least Caltrans took some advice from a non-traffic engineer. Way to go, Mitch!
With the change in seasons, we are experiencing an increased number of motor vehicle collisions with deer, especially along the Interstate 280 corridor and the roadways of the coast and Skyline Boulevard. Please exercise extra caution and drive defensively to help reduce the chances of being involved in a collision with a deer. (San Mateo County Emergency Services)
Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A) endorses John Keener, Sue Digre, and Matt Dougherty for Pacifica City Council, based on their responses to PH1A'S questionnaire on the proposed Caltrans highway-widening project.
All three candidates expressed clear opposition to the current proposal to more than double the width of a 1.3-mile segment of Highway 1. All three candidates have shown that they support the city applying for grants to have independent professionals evaluate alternatives to improve traffic flow, enhance safety, protect our environment, and beautify our town.
In PH1A'S outreach to thousands of Pacifica residents during the past two years -- public forums with large turnouts, petitions to City Council, tables at FogFest and throughout town -- it has found that an overwhelming majority of people it has spoken with support its position.
Caltrans has already certified its own Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the project. The San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) has programmed funds for the final design.
Pacifica City Council could formally request that SMCTA allocate those funds. Then the final design would be done and the project would move forward. Caltrans finalized the EIR for this project with very little input from the City Council. Now all council can do is either accept or reject the Caltrans widening plan.
Regarding your “Forget Widening, Sync Traffic Lights” post, I agree that the traffic signal at Reina del Mar is the major problem for the traffic buildup on northbound Highway 1 in the morning. A friend and I like to walk the beach trail from Linda Mar to Vallemar, and every day we see the same thing: parents driving south on Highway 1 to take their children to Vallemar School.
Instead of waiting in the left-turn lane at Reina del Mar, many turn right into the quarry, make a U-turn to head east, put the car in park, get out of the car and push the button on the traffic signal intended for pedestrians wanting to cross the highway.
Then these parents get back in the car, knowing that the light will be extra long, giving them and the cars behind them plenty of time to cross the highway. This action lengthens the signal for northbound cars, thus causing an even bigger backup on northbound Highway 1.
One day we even saw a father in a two-door car stop, climb into the backseat to release two children from their car seats. His two children ran to the signal and pushed the button, ran back to the car, and he re-buckled their car seats and waited for the signal to change. We have seen other cars stop and send older children over to push the button. I don't think widening the highway is the answer if there still is a signal at Vallemar.
The bridge replacement on Highway 1 at Linda Mar also is causing major traffic jams and delays. What sort of traffic problems will the highway widening project cause and for how long? Two years? Three years? A more reasonable answer would be to build a frontage road for emergency vehicles on the west side of Highway 1. The old KFC/Boston Bill’s building is empty and Lovey's Tea Shop knew of the future road project when the building was leased.
Fortunately for me, I have no need to be on Highway 1 in the morning, but I feel for the drivers who drive this route every morning. Most of the traffic is caused by parents or students driving to school. Everyone knows that when school is not in session, there is no traffic problem. During winter and spring breaks and summer vacation, traffic is practically nonexistent.
Pacifica City Council member Sue Digre was the surprise guest at the recent Coastside Democrats Fall Campaign Kickoff Party in Half Moon Bay.
Digre fielded questions about Highway 1. People asked about traffic at Pedro Point Bridge. When will this project be done?! It takes a lot more time to get through Pacifica because of the construction of a bridge at Pedro Point. Digre said the bridge project is a seismic update that will also raise the bridge so it is less likely to be destroyed by a "100-year" flood. Target completion date for the bridge is October 2015; related habitat restoration at the bridge should finish in 2016.
People also wondered about the proposed Caltrans highway widening. The proposed project is controversial, and most public comment weighs in against it. Digre has done research and discovered that new traffic congestion solutions are more efficient, more immediate, less costly, and not destructive to the economy or environment. The City Council has put off public discussion on the proposed widening of Highway 1 and has not had a city-sponsored public forum yet.
Other items of interest: Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, spoke on sea level rise. The San Mateo County coast is the most rapidly eroding shoreline in the country, and as a result, coastal projects must include assumption of a minimum of a three-foot rise in sea level, caused mainly by melting of Greenland's ice sheets.
Rob Caughlan, founding president of Surfrider Foundation, and Ed Larenas, chair of the San Mateo County Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, gave the latest news on the Martins Beach controversy. If the stone wall on the property is left to stand, the beach could be washed away. Learn more here: http://martinsbeach.blogspot.com/
Nicole David, County of San Mateo Harbor Commission candidate, spoke about the need for more transparency on the harbor commission. She and "Captain Tom" Mattusch are running on a reform platform to clean up the harbor commission.
(press release) There’s a bill on the Governor’s desk that has HUGE impacts to how Californians get around their communities. AB 1447 by Assembly member Waldron (San Diego County) merely clarifies that traffic signal synchronization projects can qualify for Cap and Trade auction revenues as part of sustainable infrastructure projects.
Why is this so important? Because traffic light synchronization WORKS. And California needs MORE of it. And Cap and Trade funds can fund these projects and make them a reality.
Los Angeles did as much traffic light syncing as they could with the funding they had and saw dramatic impacts on traffic flow and less of the nasty emissions from idling cars. Salinas even did it on 5 intersections and saw a difference.
No one wants to sit in traffic. No one. We have the technology to make traffic move smoother. Caltrans supports synchronization. Anyone sitting at any traffic light or in gridlock would happily tell the Governor to sign this bill.
Even the environmentalists have said this is a good idea, their only hesitation is that they prefer people to be frustrated in cars so they will bike everywhere -- a lovely idea -- but while we are still using cars, let's make them MOVE.
Assemblywoman Waldron welcomes phone calls on this topic. She is available to chat. Call or email me to be set up with her.
Below is more info than you want or need, but it’s my job to include it. Below you will find (1) a list of supporters -- there’s someone from your region who will tell you why this is so important; (2) the letter Waldron sent Governor Brown asking for his signature; (3) a press release on the bill; and (4) some highlights from coverage of the recently released traffic study in California.
Press Secretary | Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway | Amanda.Fulkerson@asm.ca.gov | p. 916.319.2026 | c. 916-307.8332 | State Capitol - Room 3104
(1) The following vocal supporters who know Californians want out of traffic: PHA Transportation Consultants, Econolite Group Inc. TJKM Transportation Consultants, Institute of Transportation Engineers Inc. City of Belmont, City of Monterey, City of Sacramento, City of Fairfield, City of Dublin, City of Clovis, City of Albany, Automobile club of Southern California, ADVANTEK consulting engineers, CA Trucking Association, San Mateo County Transit Authority, Automobile Club of Southern California, Sempra Energy utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric, and SoCalGas
(2) September 8, 2014
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Governor, State of California
California State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Brown:
I respectfully request your signature on AB 1447, joint-authored by Assembly member V. Manuel Perez. AB 1447 is permissive and merely clarifies that traffic signal synchronization projects can qualify for Cap and Trade auction revenues as part of sustainable infrastructure projects.
Reasons to support AB 1447:
· Proven technology to reduce substantial (hundreds to thousands of tons) of GHG annually
· Traffic signal synchronization is retrofitting existing intersections (both local streets and CALTRANS intersections) which benefit inner cities and poorer neighborhoods where higher traffic congestion occurs.
· CALTRANS and local jurisdictions don’t have the resources to implement – this bill would help make these investments possible by clarifying that it is eligible for funding.
· Currently, Traffic Signal Synchronization is broad in statute and is a proven mechanism that can be implemented fairly quickly with measurable results to communities statewide. The Strategic Growth Council still makes the funding decisions.
· AB 1447 coincides with the Governor's Sustainable Communities Plan
· The City of Los Angeles recently completed its efforts to synchronize all of its 4,500 traffic lights using funding which is no longer available. Then- Mayor Villaraigosa estimated it will reduce GHG emissions by roughly 1 million metric tons.
· Salinas synchronized 5 intersections and realized a savings of 15.8 tons of GHG emissions in one year
· Traffic Signal Synchronization is a proven mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which is what AB 32 funds were intended for.
· AB 1447 also does not have a direct fiscal impact and is merely an eligible option. It greatly benefits older cities and underserved communities.
I thank you for your consideration of AB 1447, and respectfully request your support to sign Assembly Bill 1447. Expanding these programs is a win-win because it will have a positive impact on our environment and our economy by cutting back on air pollution and reducing commute times for Californians.
Assemblymember, 75th District
(3) Press Release -- SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, today announced that her bill to curb vehicle emissions and reduce traffic congestion across the state through traffic light synchronization programming passed the Legislature with bipartisan support and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
“Traffic synchronization programs have been remarkably successful in reducing millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Waldron. “Expanding these programs is a win-win because it will have a positive impact on our environment by cutting back on air pollution and reducing commute times for Californians.”
Waldron’s legislation, Assembly Bill 1447, makes traffic synchronization programs eligible for funding through the Greenhouse Gas Emission Fund. This would allow for Traffic Signal Synchronization to be implemented more broadly throughout the state while cutting back on the harmful greenhouse gasses from idling vehicles.
California’s driving population is continually growing, resulting in excessive traffic on roadways. An unfortunate result from the overpopulated roads is an increase in fuel consumption and air contamination. When traffic light synchronization was implemented in Orange County, congestion decreased and reduced stops by 41%, travel time by 22%, and fuel consumption by 12%. In Salinas, 15.8 tons of hydrocarbon emissions were reduced in one year alone, saving $1,722,152 annually. Los Angeles, which used Proposition 1B funds to synchronize most of its signals, will also reduce air emissions by over 1 million metrics.
AB1447 was supported by the California Trucking Association, the Automobile Club of California, numerous California cities, including Albany, Belmont, Clovis, Dublin, Fairfield, Monterey, Sacramento, and many other groups.
(4) The Road Information Program (TRIP) released a report summarizing staggering costs to drivers in California. Here are the take-aways from the San Jose Mercury News on the report:
California drivers pay a staggering $44 billion a year in extra car costs because of traffic jams that seemingly grow worse by the day, spreading potholes and outdated roads and bridges, according to a national highway advocacy group.
Some Bay Area drivers fork over as much as $2,200 a year, according to a report released Thursday by The Road Information Program, or TRIP...
...In 2006, state voters approved a multibillion-dollar bond for transportation fixes, and in 2009 stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $3.9 billion to pay for paving and repairing 18,000 miles of freeways and highways from Redding to San Diego...
...Will Kempton, executive director of Transportation California and a former Caltrans director, said most state freeways opened five decades ago and have exceeded their 40-year-old life span."Our transportation system is simply worn out," he said.
Full Story Here
Press Secretary | Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway | Amanda.Fulkerson@asm.ca.gov | p. 916.319.2026 | c. 916-307.8332 | State Capitol - Room 3104
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:
By Chris Fogel, Special to Riptide
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all references are to the Caltrans Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR):
Current width of Highway 1 at midpoint between Fassler and Reina Del Mar: 64’ (Figure 1.5)
Width of proposed center median only at same point: 40’ (Figure 1.6)
Width of entire proposed roadway at same point: 144’ (Figure 1.5)
Average width of 8-lane interstate highway, including all shoulders and medians: 132’
Change in width, in multiple, from current to proposed: +2.25
Width of proposed roadway at intersections of Fassler or Reina Del Mar: not provided
Number of retaining walls described in project: 8 (page 13)
Total linear feet of retaining walls: 3,090 (page 13)
Minimum height of retaining walls, in feet: 3 (page 14)
Maximum height, in feet: 22 (page 14)
Number of soundwalls described in project: 2 (Figure 2.4; page 164)
Minimum height of soundwalls, in feet: 12 (page 165)
Maximum height of soundwalls: not stated
Date of final decision on incorporating soundwalls into project: not stated
Number of cantilevered bridges to be constructed: 1 (page 172)
Total number of parcels requiring full or partial land acquisition: 27 (page 26)
Number of privately owned parcels requiring full or partial acquisition: 17 (page 19)
Number of single-family homes that will require full or partial acquisition: 4 (page 19)
Number of single-family homes to be demolished: 1 (page 19)
Number of business locations requiring full or partial acquisition: 5 (page 19)
Number of business locations to be demolished: 2 (page 19)
Amount of pollutants to be created by construction: not stated
Future daily reduction levels of pollution and length of time required to offset that created by construction: not stated
Effects of construction pollution upon goals of City of Pacifica Climate Action Plan: not stated
Estimated length of project construction time: “more than two years” (page 205)
Estimated daily length of traffic delays caused by project construction during this time: not stated
Future travel reduction times and number of vehicle trips needed to make up for construction traffic delays: not stated
Current levels of service (LOS) at Reina Del Mar, a.m./p.m.: E/F (page 87)
Levels of service at Reina Del Mar 20 years after project completion: E/D (page 87)
Current levels of service at Fassler, a.m./p.m.: F/F (page 87)
Levels of service at Fassler 20 years after project completion: F/E (page 87)
By Peter Loeb, Riptide Correspondent
Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) has concluded its legal challenge to the Caltrans Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) on the Highway 1 widening.
PSC attorneys Celeste Langille and Brian Gaffney completed their oral arguments at a hearing on August 29. Then City of Pacifica attorney Kevin Siegel presented his oral argument, followed by Caltrans attorney Derek van Hoften. PSC’s attorneys then rebutted.
Langille and Gaffney argued that the project was described as one thing in the draft EIR but became a much bigger project in the final EIR, with huge retaining walls and massive excavations.
They also claimed that Caltrans failed to do a legally required analysis of the project's visual impacts. And they charged that Caltrans did not analyze the project's greenhouse-gas impacts. They also argued that Caltrans improperly limited its analysis of the project's environmental impacts to only the project's footprint, without analyzing impacts on surrounding areas.
Judge Weiner challenged the attorneys on some of their points, but it seemed that she saw the merits of at least some PSC complaints about the FEIR's inadequacy.
At least 22 PSC supporters attended the hearings. Judge Weiner thanked them for being well-behaved during the hearings. The judge has 90 days to deliver her ruling, so the outcome may not be known until the end of November. But a ruling could come much sooner than that.
If the judge decides that some issues raised by PSC have merit, she may require Caltrans to go back and redo the analyses that were found missing. It’s possible that her ruling could require Caltrans to revise and recirculate the EIR, take public comments again, and then respond to those comments in another final EIR.
PSC's lawsuit is unlikely to stop the project, but a second group, Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A), is doing a variety of things to stop the project, including trying to get the city to apply for grant money to hire a traffic consultant to evaluate all alternatives for reducing traffic, raising the issue in the current City Council race, and considering a referendum or initiative on the project.