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July 03, 2010

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"Does anyone know anything about the parked Caltrans mowing tractor mowing the coastal zone side of the ESHA along Rt1 just south of Reina Del Mar?"

Nope. But surveyor was out last week on Fassler, surveying the segment of highway that SMCTA/Caltrans propose to widen.

I do agree that simply widening without eliminating the stoplights is not an adequate long-term fix. Grade separation to allow through traffic to flow without having to stop is definitely a much better long-term solution. But the widening will allow a 50 percent increase in the number of vehicles making it through each green-light cycle. This will help to reduce commute time, which means a reduction in carbon emissions. I believe the widening will help, but only for the short term. Inasmuch as grade separation with stoplight elimination is much more expensive and requires additional space, I doubt it will happen anytime soon. Reluctantly, I am compelled to support the widening, which is better than doing nothing.

Does anyone know anything about the parked Caltrans mowing tractor mowing the coastal zone side of the ESHA along Rt1 just south of Reina Del Mar?

When you look at the the plans for widening the highway, you wonder, "Where are the fast lanes?" The hard fact is that there are none.

The reason why Highway 1 is an express from Reina Del Mar to 280 and 35: on-ramps and off-ramps leading to and from Palmetto and Oceana, which are long frontage roads. The FREEway underpasses Manor Drive and Paloma, and overpasses Clarendon.

The reason why the new six-lane widening will forever be a LOCAL bottleneck: no underpasses or overpasses to BYPASS the four stoplights between Linda Mar Blvd. and Reina Del Mar.

All vehicles must come to a FULL STOP four consecutive times, no matter how many lanes are added.

Why damage the wetlands, add pollution, and spend tens of millions of dollars, all without solving the inherent problem?

Highway 1 Widening Comments due by July 22. If you are concerned about the plans to widen Highway 1, you have until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 22 to send your comments to the San Mateo County Transit Authority. You can email to smcta_feedback@smcta.com.

The Highway 1/Calera Parkway project will widen the highway to six lanes, from a half mile north of the Vallemar intersection to a quarter mile south of the Fassler/Rockaway Beach intersection.

All comments will be responded to in the draft Environmental Impact Report for the project. You can comment about all impacts such as impacts on businesses, pollution, wetlands, endangered species, visual impacts, pedestrian impacts, anything that you are concerned about. Be specific and detailed. If you have more than one issue, send separate comments for each one to make sure they are all addressed.
You can also mail written comments to Joseph Hurley, Director, SMCTA Program, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070-1306, and you can provide comments on the phone by calling (650) 508-6283.

If the overpass/underpass is not in the EIR as an alternative, the EIR is wasted. That SMCTA, not the community, is deciding on alternatives for the EIR is a big problem that I don't know how to solve other than halting the document by having a simple council majority vote to show it no longer sponsors the widening.

Halting the widening project by a simple council majority doesn't need to mean stopping a solution such as Mitch's or any other alternative such as Bob's or John's.

As for the elusive funding, a $45 million federal earmark by Jackie, Barbara, or Dianne would solve that problem far too easily.

The over and under Highway 1 concept I sent to Caltrans/SMCTA deals only with Reina Del Mar. It runs under the highway and provides safer pedestrian and bicycle access. I agree that improvement of pedestrian safety should be of the highest concern at both intersections.

CEQA process was not followed. The proposal itself does not conform to California law because it is an illegal highway segment.

I hope we are all remembering to put our opinions on the Calera Parkway Project officially to SMCTA, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070; fax to 650-508-7938; or email to smcta_feedback@samtrans.com
(remember to put "SR1/Calera Parkway" in subject line) BEFORE public comment closes July 22.

Mitch:

As I pointed out at that meeting and have posted on a related thread, this proposal "might" improve car traffic issues at Fassler, but it makes the pedestrian access crossing at Fassler even worse than it is now.

Transit stops at Vallemar and Fassler intersections were also not included in their drawings. Both transit stops have lots of kids using them. Any proposal that negates and ignores safe pedestrian access and transit stops should be outright rejected by Pacificans as making motive options in Pacifica WORSE instead of better.

I guess if we can't live with a projected three-minute increase in our transit times and are going to be beholden to the almighty car, we're free to turn our community into Daly City with Linda Mar Blvd. becoming a John Daly Blvd. look-alike and Highway 1 becoming another 280. Because those three minutes annoy us so much, we'd be willing to trash a part of our community to do it. And, of course, where the three lanes narrow back to two, we'd have an unacceptable bottleneck that would have to be remedied: So push the freeway out further in both directions.

Of course, this is if the projected yearly increases of 0.75 percent actually occur. The traffic engineer has already admitted that this projection hasn't panned out -- based on traffic volumes taken in 2007 -- and stated that actual traffic is lighter than what was shown on his slides. Blame it on the recession, fuel costs, changing driving habits, whatever -- but not only has traffic not grown at this 0.75 percent projected rate from 2007, it has actually decreased. So I can't take this 0.75 percent figure as fact, based on current evidence.

I'm assuming that increases in traffic must correlate with an increase in population. Let's assume that Pacifica has 40,000 residents. At 0.75 percent over 10 years, this would represent a gain of more than 3,000 residents. Do you really think we're going to experience this level of growth? Remember, the presenters said that 2/3 of the traffic is local Pacifica through traffic.

Then there's the odd phenomena of induced traffic and latent demand. When driving becomes easier, more people will drive -- and more often; build it and they will come. This was conveniently hand-waved away at the presentation meeting when the issue was brought up, with an "it's complicated" response. We were presented with solutions from the '50s, while ignoring modern traffic solutions. And yes, one of these solutions is to not do anything.

"More and Bigger" is an outmoded response to traffic issues, given current research.

Notice that both SF's Embarcadero Freeway and NY's West Side Highway were not rebuilt. The drivers who would have normally traveled along these routes didn't rush to clog the side streets in search of alternate routes: They totally altered their driving habits in response.

For those of you supporting the highway expansion from a business angle, I urge you to review economic/traffic studies to learn what generally results when communities construct freeways through them: You essentially bifurcate those communities (see Oakland for an extreme example). These barriers severely reduce the impact of redevelopment efforts: Improvements in one area of the community can't spread into areas across the freeway. Multilane thoroughfares also carry people through and past communities, not into them.

If you ever travel south on the weekend, down to Half Moon Bay or farther, you know traffic can get heavy. As you're heading through the communities of Moss Beach, El Granada, and Princeton, do you think to yourself, "Gee, they really ought to put a freeway through here?" Or do you just deal with it and adjust your habits accordingly because maybe part of the charm of those communities is the slower pace and smaller roadways.

Why is our town of Pacifica being hijacked by drivers looking to save three minutes?*

*Per the presentation, these three-minute delays occur only for 30 minutes in the morning and evening, nine months out of the year.

I support solving the problem, just not widening the highway. When the consultant at the meeting tried to explain why they rejected Concept D, he quickly dismissed the (least environmentally damaging) alternative, saying it would work but not solve the problem at Fassler.

So, like my proposed alternative, it would solve half the problem. But because it solves only half the problem, they have outright rejected it.

Why does it have to be the whole enchilada?

Businesses in Pacifica naturally would oppose this illegal segment of freeway proposed to be built through Pacifica: Drivers would drive. Past Pacifica. Past Rockaway. Past Linda Mar.

As a resident, I know this will change Pacifica forever from the quasi-rural, friendly small town to part of a megalopolis, much more like Los Angeles with the big highway retaining walls, and much less like El Granada or Moss Beach, pretty quiet little vacation towns with some residential and a whole lotta view.

"I would have a hard time voting for a council candidate who was against the widening unless he/she offered reasonable alternatives."

Even if it were me (which, I must admit, it isn't) who had to leave the four or eight (these are SMCTA numbers) minutes earlier, I would consider doing nothing at all, a reasonable alternative to spending tens of millions of dollars of "free" (???) money on trashing our town for the next few years (and quite possibly forever) for an outcome that would whisk potential customers even more quickly past Pacifica businesses. I thought you were a pro-business kind of guy, Steve. I can see why developers with an eye on Pescadero and Davenport might want to have any and all travelers see Pacifica only as a distant speck in their rearview mirrors, but $5 million to buy us four or eight minutes indicates that this might not really be for our benefit at all, don't you think?!

Steve, there are alternatives we have all been mentioning lately, so no shortage of those, but unless they are in the EIR as alternatives, it matters little. The reason to halt the EIR now is to have the COMMUNITY, not SMCTA, a publicly funded governmental agency consisting of appointees, choose the alternatives. It could be that the widening snafu never makes the cut and is left out of the EIR. This is why all these studies should be released BEFORE the EIR comes out. So we, not SMCTA, are steering this train wreck.

While not a one-issue voter like Todd, I would have a hard time voting for a council candidate who was against the widening unless he/she offered reasonable alternatives. The city's suffered too much damage from Nobies who say "NO!" to everything. It looks like Todd and I will cancel out each other's vote.

Just to make clear, I don't count increased public transit, mile-long detours, or cones in the street as reasonable alternatives.

I couldn't agree more with Todd: Any candidate supporting this freeway doesn't get my vote.

This needs to be one of the first questions asked at any candidates forum:
"Do you support or oppose the Calera Parkway as proposed by the transit agencies?"

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