Caltrans is reviving its awful, unnecessary and unwanted Richardson Grove project, again

leave it be

It was bound to happen so it is no surprise that once again Caltrans has unleashed its mighty bureaucracy on Richardson Grove State Park with its insistence that Highway 101 be “realigned” to allow Interstate trucks to legally navigate this scenic stretch of the road.  You may have seen the announcement in area newspapers on May 22.  You can find the documents at:

http://dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/richardson_grove/

Since 2007 concerned citizens have battled Caltrans in Court to address deficiencies in the plan and most importantly determine why Caltrans is so insistent on forging ahead with this costly project (projected now to cost as much as $8.5 million.)  Supposedly the rationale is to “improve goods movement” into and out of the County but the documents do not provide any example of how the public would actually benefit from this expenditure of tax dollars at a time when our existing roads need REPAIRS rather than new projects.

How can this expenditure be justified in light of the fact that the State Legislature has voted to INCREASE OUR STATE GAS-TAX BY 12 CENTS PER GALLON because of the need for road repair and maintenance? With the potential failure of Highway 101 at Last Chance Grade estimated as costing as much as $1 billion dollars where is the economic justification for the Richardson Grove project?  You won’t find such an analysis in the newly released documents.  Perhaps our Caltrans bureaucrats need to take a course in cost-benefit analysis. We tax-payers deserve some answers on Caltrans spending.

The new documents are entitled an “Addendum to the Final Environmental Impact Report.”  This means that Caltrans gets away with not having to issue a new EIR/EIS and therefore there is no public comment period.  However, this does not prevent citizens from voicing their discontent via letters to the editor and via social media.

More substantive comments as soon as the documents are analyze, so stay tuned!

(thanks to  Barbara Kennedy)

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8 thoughts on “Caltrans is reviving its awful, unnecessary and unwanted Richardson Grove project, again

  1. Caltrans reminds me of the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors…growing and demanding more, more, more while hiding the fact it has outgrown its original function.
    Here is the LA area Caltrans announced a plan to build a tunnel to link the 710 freeway (from the harbor and all the import cargo that originates there) with the 210/134 freeways so trucks don’t drive city streets and so they can avoid further clogging the I-5 & I-101 through downtown.
    The original plan was to put a freeway through a beautiful residential community (South Pasadena)….and at the time, it would have been another large, ugly cement band that would still have dumped traffic onto city streets and added greatly to the air pollution in the San Gabriel Valley.
    Local groups joined together and managed to stop it.
    So Caltrans came back with other options, mainly a tunnel. Funding was approved, seismic testing started and Caltrans started offering public
    meetings.
    The fight was on. The funding from government sources would not be enough so they planned on a public-private funding where the tunnel would have tolls.
    I asked, and found no trucking company that would be willing to pay a toll to save a little time, and the companies they hauled for wouldn’t either.
    It has been a long but well-waged fight.
    http://www.no710.com/
    The site mentions a study, here’s that link:
    http://uspirg.org/news/usp/new-study-identifies-twelve-worst-highway-projects-across-country-24-billion-wasted

    And the reason I’m bringing up this boondoggle is that the tunnel plan has just been shot down: The details are on the first link.

    Caltrans CAN be taken on. It will take a broad coalition. With the governor’s office up for grabs (and there are some very grabby politicians out there, accumulating their war chests and trying to get free public attention too) so
    those are the people who can either put the brakes on Caltrans or go along with the power-hungry bureaucracy…
    The fight back doesn’t have to start big, just individuals who will ask questions and demand answers.
    Everyone in California has an investment in preserving things as they are on this route. But everyone doesn’t know about it.
    Talk with AAA—they support natural beauty as well as good roads.
    Look at what the Stop710 group(s) have done, maybe reach out to them for
    advice.
    Start demanding information for Caltrans on everything they have up their sleeves.
    Got someone who knows law? Find out the legality of anything besides maintenance through this grove.
    Some nature preservation group must have a list of CA legislators who would oppose the Caltrans plan and those who might support it.
    I hope calparks.org is already on board with the fight…
    also for info on who supports the work:
    https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25433

    I may be telling you things you already know but since I don’t know what you already know, I’d rather provide it and have it be a duplicate.
    Good luck.

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  2. Maybe you shouldn’t have objected to restoring train service? Goods need to get in and out of humboldt somehow. I would prefer train to a wider highway, but thanks to the anti-train crowd, we’ll be getting a wider highway instead.

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    • Bushytails:

      Two bad ideas don’t make a good idea.

      Comparing one bad idea to a worse idea doesn’t make the bad idea any better.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Are you aware that STAA trucks, coming from the I-5 corridor, have only a SINGLE route to Del Norte and Humboldt Counties? That route is OR-42 from Roseburg area to Coos Bay, then US-101 south to these counties; but no further south than Garberville.

        That means EVERY shipment for products you purchase at local grocery store or elsewhere, regardless if it comes from the SF Bay area, Sac, or Portland, must travel 3 times further than truly necessary. There are NO other available routes for STAA trucks.

        CA-299 is restricted and off-limits to STAA trucks, so no direct route from Redding to Humboldt is available.
        US-199, from Grants Pass to Crescent City, as mentioned here, is off-limits to STAA trucks; the restriction is only on the 33 mile section in California. So, because of CA’s restriction on 199, the trucks must travel nearly 500 miles extra vs the 66mi (round-trip). Of the 33 miles in CA, there are only a total of 7 miles that are the cause for the restriction; Oregon had no adverse effects to the Smith River areas when they widened US-199. In fact, Oregon and California both agreed to perform the projects simultaneously so that the entire 199 would allow for STAA trucks; Oregon did their part, yet CA fell short.
        US-101 from the south has similar restrictions at Richardson Grove, so no STAA trucks can come from the south.

        US-101 from Crescent City to Eureka has taken a beating due to winter slides and road damage. It isn’t any safer for trucks to use than allowing trucks to use CA-299 or US-101 from the south.

        FYI: Diesel STAA trucks are, short of 100% electric vehicles, put out less pollution than any personal vehicle on the market today. The Feds, and CA, mandated changes to heavy truck engines that require nearly ZERO emissions; since 2013, heavy trucks put out less pollutants than 98% of new cars/pickups/suvs on the market.

        Definition of an STAA truck: a commercial combination (single trailer) vehicle with a total length above 65′, but under 75′. The day-cab trucks you see in D-N & Hmblt Counties are not STAA trucks, and require most companies to put their drivers in hotels nightly due to Federal restrictions on Driver Log Hours. STAA trucks are “sleeper cab” (trucks with a bunk), so that the driver can get the Fed required sleep hours daily. These STAA trucks are only 27″ too long for the restrictions; That’s 27 INCHES that cause the extra 500 miles. No sleeper cab is short enough due to Fed safety standards.

        Double trailers can total 75′ on the restricted route, but are more dangerous to drive and have heavier allowable weights; most “full trailer” transport companies do not purchase doubles due to the cost of the trailers, dollies, and related maintenance costs. Usually, only “LTL” companies (Less Than Truckload) use doubles, like FedEx, UPS, Oak Harbor, for local deliveries; the rates to ship on these carriers are 5 times higher than STAA companies.

        Let’s be clear as to why Humboldt and Del Norte Counties pay premium prices for goods locally:

        A) US-199: a total of 33 miles, of which only 6-7 miles is too narrow for STAA trucks to navigate.
        B) CA-299: a 5 mile section east of Willow Creek. Again, too narrow for STAA trucks.
        C) US-101 at Richardson Grove, a section of less than 5 miles of winding road that makes it difficult to navigate for STAA trucks.

        So, for less than TWENTY miles of total roadway on 3 routes, the population of these counties pay 20% more for items than the ENTIRE population of the nation.
        As if everyone in these counties, with exorbitant real estate prices, higher rental rates, and nearly no real paying jobs, needs to pay extra for daily items.

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      • Wow Mola! Looks like you woke up Caltrans’s ministry of propaganda

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Richardson Grove “project” is currently the primary example of everything wrong with CalTrans, priority wise, money wise and morality wise. Its not just un-environmental, its counter-environmental. Old growth groves are global treasures and its insulting ones intelligence to suggest making the freeway bigger through one is good for anything. The symbolism is counter-intuitive.

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