Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2014

A Federal court has halted a controversial Caltrans project to widen highways 197 and 199 along the Smith River Canyon:

The judge ruled that there is a risk of irreparable harm to the Smith River if the project were to proceed before the case is heard on its merits; he also ruled that a valid argument has been raised by plaintiffs that the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the federal Endangered Species Act by failing to properly analyze whether the project will jeopardize protected coho salmon or their critical habitat. The court characterized both agencies’ biological assessment documents for the project as “contradictory and unclear,” citing “serious questions about the adequacy of the ESA review and consultation process” raised by the plaintiffs. The court noted that it “cannot rubber-stamp a haphazard consultation process.”

Caltrans tried to downplay the threat project construction poses to salmon habitat and water quality along the Smith River and failed to look at safety hazards from increased truck traffic. The agency has thus far refused to consider alternatives besides widening the highway and ignored the cumulative impacts of numerous other associated Caltrans highway-widening projects in Northern California for oversized truck access. Despite the Fisheries Service’s own data on the imperiled status of coho salmon in the Smith River, the agency rubber-stamped the project without sufficient review.

Highway 199 is a scenic byway along the Smith River Canyon that passes through the Six Rivers National Forest and the Smith River National Recreation Area and provides access to Redwood National and State Parks. The Smith River is the only undammed river in California, with the longest stretch of designated “wild and scenic” river in the lower 48. A 1989 Caltrans report acknowledged the physical constraints of the narrow, steep and rocky Smith River Canyon and concluded that environmental concerns make Highway 199 “a poor candidate for extensive upgrading.”

Meanwhile, Caltrans is sticking with Alternattive “B” alignment for the Centennial Corridor, a controversial freewway project in Bakersfield that would bisect the Westpark neighborhood:

Alternative B through the Westpark neighborhood remains Caltrans’ preferred and least expensive route for Centennial Corridor, the controversial freeway link between Highway 58 and the Westside Parkway — but would require the demolition of far more homes and businesses than previously thought.

With its release Friday of the project’s draft Environmental Impact Report, the state transportation agency found Alternative B would improve traffic throughout metropolitan Bakersfield — but as currently planned would require the demolition of 200 single-family homes, 110 multiple-family structures and 121 commercial buildings.

Previously, the freeway alternative through southwest Bakersfield was thought to require the demolition of more than 199 single-family homes, 16 multiple-family structures and 36 businesses. Currently, Caltrans also estimates Alternative B would require 293 full parcel acquisitions, 129 partial parcel acquisitions — and could displace an estimated 961 people.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

You would think by now he would have been fired, or at least had his city-owned vehicle taken away:

On April 30, 2004, Robert Rawls allegedly injured two Rutgers University employees who were crossing in a crosswalk at the intersection of George and Liberty Streets. One woman leaped out of the way and averted injury. Another had her pelvis broken in three places, while a third person sufferred full body contusions, according to a source.

That accident happened just over ten years before Rawls struck three children in a crosswalk located just twelve blocks away on Tuesday afternoon.

Over those ten years, Rawls was involved in another thirteen car accidents, not including the tragedy on Tuesday.

Now, Rawls finds himself and his driving record under increased scrutiny after two days of massive protests in response to the accident. NBC New York’s Brian Thompson reported earlier this evening that Rawls has been in nineteen accidents in 38 years of driving, according to the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission.

The news comes in the wake of the recent accident, where three children on their way home from school were struck by Rawls’ city-owned 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe. He was on-duty at the time. Just six weeks prior to the tragic accident that seriously injured two 14-year-old girls and a 6-year-old boy, Rawls was involved in another accident. Rawls was also behind the wheel during an accident in 2013, two accidents in 2012, and three each in 2008 and 2009.

The victims who were struck Tuesday were hospitalized with serious injuries, one that has some parallels with accounts of the April 2004 incident. But that accident occurred when Rawls was off-duty, said the source. He was promoted to the Fire Director position two years later.

Read Full Post »

House GOP Transportation bill would slash $1.2 billion from housing subsidies for the poor, eliminate funding for high-speed rail, eliminate bike/ped funding, and cut $200 million for new transit projects.

On the other hand, the GOP has no problem with continuing $150 million in subsidies for the Essential Air Services program.

Read Full Post »

Dumb question….but why is Caltrain adding more signals?

In December 2012, Caltrain started construction of the second phase of the Signal Optimization Project to place into service additional signals in the cities of San Mateo and Redwood City.

Lead Agency: Caltrain

Contractors: Transit Constructors LP

Project Limits: San Mateo to Menlo Park

Construction Cost: $549,000

Began Construction: December 2012

Completed Construction: May 2013

Caltrain is already spending one-quarter of a billion dollars on a new PTC system. PTC cab signalling largely eliminates the need for trackside signals. Not having to spend money on maintaining trackside signals was supposed to be one of the benefits of the PTC system.

And no, this isn’t because of some stupid FRA rule. The FRA has signed off on signal removal by other railroads with PTC.

Contractors installing new signal

Contractors installing new signal. Note the giant signal house to contain the “complex” electronics.

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts