CRTP Statement on Recent Developments in the Richardson Grove Saga

The Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities was disappointed last month when Caltrans released revised environmental documents for the Richardson Grove oversized truck access project and indicated its intention to proceed with the project with no additional public input. CRTP remains opposed to the project for all of the reasons we have articulated over the last two years. Those reasons include the fact that it draws money and attention away from more urgent priorities, and that it would result in additional large truck traffic, with negative impacts on everything from local road maintenance to global climate change. None of this has changed with the latest Caltrans proposal.

Predictably, litigation has now been filed against the project once again by a collection of environmental groups and concerned citizens. CRTP is not a party to the litigation, but we support the efforts of our allies to challenge the project.

We think everyone should know that CRTP and EPIC – one of the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit – have been attempting for several months to work in good faith with Caltrans and other project stakeholders to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to the issues with Highway 101 through Richardson Grove without the need for litigation. Unfortunately, Caltrans chose to move ahead with the project unilaterally without addressing many of the major concerns of opponents, leaving EPIC and others with little choice but to sue.

However, CRTP hopes to continue to work with all parties to reach a resolution which meets at least some of the goals of project proponents without causing all of the impacts. If and when such a resolution is reached, neither the project as currently proposed nor the litigation challenging it will be necessary. That’s the outcome we’re hoping for.

$5 Million for Last Chance Grade

Finally, a little bit of progress on this critical project. From the Times-Standard:

“The California Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to approve $5 million to fund environmental and geotechnical studies on a proposal to reroute the landslide-prone section of U.S. Highway 101 known as Last Chance Grade in Del Norte County, according to local government representatives…”

Read the full article here.

New Slide Closes 101

The reasons for spending our limited transportation budgets on basic maintenance and repairs instead of destructive, unnecessary highway expansions keep piling up this winter. From the Times-Standard:

“Caltrans said today the slide on U.S. Highway 101 north of Leggett is still active and it has not had the opportunity to clear debris from the site.

Although Caltrans reported Monday the area could open by Wednesday, that is no longer the case. At this time, there is no estimated opening of the route….”

Read the full article here.

State Transportation Funding Bill Proceeding Through Legislature

The dire state of our existing transportation infrastructure highlights the foolishness of expanding our highways and inviting more big, road- and bridge-damaging trucks into the North Coast. Even the major revenue-raising measure currently proposed would at best only allow us to maintain existing roads and bridges a little better.

From the Times-Standard:

“…’Our road systems are falling apart,’ [Humboldt County Public Works Director Thomas] Mattson said. ‘It’s got to be paid for one way or another.'”

Read the full article here.

STAA Trucks Not Just a North Coast Concern

From the Manteca Bulletin:

“…Lathrop Road, not having the STAA designation, was not engineered with the proper road base to support the weight of these long haul trucks traversing it daily.  This is evidenced by the mere fact that within a few short years after it was paved with new asphalt, it is deteriorating to the point that major work is going to be needed soon.…”

Read the full letter here.

Times-Standard: Sen. McGuire to Make Road Funding Top Priority

From the Times-Standard:

“Highways, freeways, bridges and streets across the state are past due for repairs and upgrades — and in need of billions to make it happen — which is why state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) placed obtaining transportation infrastructure funding for his North Coast constituents at the top of his to-do list this year….”

Read the full article here.

Times-Standard Letter: “Be Ever Vigilant, Save Richardson Grove Again!”

From the Times-Standard letters section:

“Rumor has it that Caltrans may still be cooking up plans for the highway expansion project for big trucks in Richardson Grove State Park, despite being rebuked by the courts two years ago. If this is true, I hope Caltrans will allow the public to comment, and that they’ll take our input seriously….”

Read the full letter here.