New Study Finds Caltrans Projects Likely to Increase Truck Traffic

Caltrans projects on Highway 101 in Richardson Grove State Park and on Highways 199 and 197 in Del Norte County will likely increase truck traffic significantly on the North Coast, according to a new study released by the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP).  This conclusion is contrary to claims made by Caltrans about the projects. The group says Caltrans’ conclusions are flawed and based on inadequate information.

The study looked at truck traffic on state highways throughout California. It compared the number of trucks on the road, how much of overall traffic is made up of trucks, and how fast those numbers are growing across different types of highways. The results of the study show that highways which allow “STAA trucks,” which are the largest vehicles allowed on the road, generally had heavier truck traffic. Highways which connect to other STAA truck routes had even heavier truck traffic. Highways 101 and 199 will end up in this category if the Caltrans projects are built.

“This study is designed to show what actually happens on the kinds of highways Caltrans is trying to create on the North Coast,” said Colin Fiske, Campaign Coordinator for CRTP.  “This is a much more serious analysis than anything Caltrans has ever done.  What the study shows is that the Caltrans projects at Richardson Grove and in the Smith River Canyon in Del Norte County are very likely to result in heavier truck traffic.”

“More heavy truck traffic is an important impact by itself,” Fiske continued, “and one that Caltrans has never studied. But even more important is what it means for all the other impacts of these projects. It means more noise, more pollution, more serious accidents, and more damage to local roads. It also means more impacts to the old growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park and the salmon in the Smith River. Caltrans needs to take this very seriously.”

The study was based on Caltrans’ own traffic data from throughout the state over the last two decades. It dismisses Caltrans’ assertions that the projects would not significantly increase truck traffic as “qualitative” and “based almost entirely on speculative survey results.”

Read the full study here.

New Report Finds Dangerous Spots on Local Highways

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2015

Read the full report here.

NEW REPORT FINDS DANGEROUS SPOTS ON LOCAL HIGHWAYS

Group Challenges Caltrans to Tackle “Real Safety Projects”

Local Caltrans officials have failed to prioritize projects that would improve safety on local highways, according to a new report by the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP). Instead, the group says Caltrans has promoted highway expansion projects designed for other purposes and falsely claimed that they will increase safety.

To come to their conclusions, the group analyzed data from the Fatal Accident Reporting System maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They looked at fatal accidents which occurred between 2010 and 2013 on state highways in Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Mendocino and Lake Counties—the area Caltrans calls District 1. They found that on average, every five-mile stretch of highway experienced one fatal accident over the four years. But 14 stretches of road saw 4 or more fatal accidents over the same time period. These were called out as the most hazardous spots in District 1’s network. Those spots were all on Routes 101, 20, and 29, with the exception of one on Route 199.

“The highest number of fatal accidents on any stretch of highway was on the 101 going through the town of Weott, where I happen to live,” said Barbara Kennedy, a CRTP spokesperson. “But there were also very high rates on 101 in Arcata and Fortuna, on Routes 20 and 29 in Lake County, and in a number of other places.”

“What’s really an outrage is that for years Caltrans has been pushing these oversized truck access projects in Richardson Grove and on Highways 197 and 199 and calling them safety projects,” Kennedy continued. “It turns out these projects are not actually targeting the dangerous parts of our highways. Anyway, Caltrans has given themselves exemptions from their own safety design standards to build these projects which will bring in more big, dangerous trucks. How can you call that safety? We challenge Caltrans to cancel Richardson Grove, cancel 199, and put the money toward real safety projects.”

The group did find that one of the spots targeted by the Highway 197/199 project fell in a dangerous stretch of road, but the actual boundaries for the construction did not include the locations of any of the fatal accidents. “Maybe the most striking thing we found is that there have been very few safety projects designed or constructed by Caltrans on the most hazardous road segments in District 1,” said Colin Fiske, CRTP’s campaign coordinator. “Caltrans recently updated its mission statement, and ‘safe’ is now the very first word used to describe the kind of transportation system they say they want to provide. But with only a few exceptions, mostly in Arcata, Caltrans apparently isn’t doing anything to try to make these dangerous areas in District 1 any safer. We hope that changes in the near future.”

Upcoming Event: CRTP Task Force Meet & Greet!

The local volunteer Task Force which guides the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP) is holding a public meet-and-greet at Eureka’s Chapala Café on Wednesday, August 26th, from 5-7pm.   This will be an informal occasion for anyone interested in the issues to talk about CRTP’s plans and priorities as well as other local transportation topics.  If you come, we encourage you to pay for any food or drinks at the register downstairs before proceeding to the event upstairs.  We hope to see you there!

What: CRTP Task Force Meet & Greet

Where: Chapala Café (201 Second St, Eureka)

When: Wednesday, August 26th, from 5-7pm

“My Word”: New Priorities for Transportation

From today’s Times-Standard:

“…That’s why the first priority of the newly formed Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP) is to spend our limited transportation dollars on maintenance and repair. CRTP is a group of Humboldt and Del Norte County residents whose mission is to promote transportation solutions which protect and support a healthy environment, healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy economy on the North Coast. After maintenance and repair, our priorities for transportation infrastructure are to fund only new infrastructure which supports healthy, livable, sustainable communities, and to cancel counterproductive road expansion projects which don’t meet these basic criteria.

These are pretty common-sense priorities, and you might think that our public agencies wouldn’t need much prodding to follow them. Given the facts, you might even assume that every available transportation dollar would be allocated to maintaining our existing critical infrastructure in working order. But you’d be wrong. Instead, transportation planners often seem dead set on continuing to spend money to expand roads even more. They often promote projects which do little to make our communities more livable, but do bring in more traffic to cause more infrastructure damage we can’t afford to fix….

It’s up to CRTP — and everyone who agrees with us — to change those priorities. You can find out more at www.transportationpriorities.org. We hope you’ll join us in taking up the challenge!”

Read the full op-ed.