Monday, February 17, 2014

Caltrans is out of step with the times, says independent study. Write a letter today to add your voice for redwoods and wetlands!

Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters Wetlands Alert, Feb. 17, 2014:
Sometimes—if you keep broadcasting your message logically, accurately and persistently, the echo comes back to you when you hear those in decision-making capacities using the same words.
Please write to Brian Kelley, Secretary, Calif. State Transportation Agency, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, Chair, State Senate Transportation Committee, with cc to Gov. Jerry Brown (addresses below)
Caltrans is seriously out of step with the times, with the needs of the state of California, and with the ecological imperative. We have been voicing this for a long time, and now an independent study has come to that same conclusion. The Report, the SSTI Assessment and Recommendations, authored by the State Smart Transportation Initiative and just released in January 2014, finds that Caltrans is stuck in a car-centric culture, looking to build bigger, faster highways at a time we are facing rising gas prices, dwindling petroleum resources and catastrophic climate crisis.
It seems a no-brainer to put taxpayer dollars into innovative alternatives and infrastructure repair rather than highway construction, but Caltrans seems to have its’ head in the sand. Among other changes, the Initiative recommends modernization of Caltrans culture and strategies, and suggests a focus on transportation projects that encourage “more dense development rather than freeway-enabled sprawl”.
Three Caltrans projects on California’s North Coast stand as examples of this “stuck-in-the-past” project planning:
* The Willits Bypass
* The highway “realignment” through Richardson Grove State Park
* A highway project planned in Del Norte County, in the wild Smith River ecosystem.
We ask that you to write to these decision-makers and representatives and urge them to act immediately to halt and reassess these Caltrans projects before more irreversible ecological harm takes place.  You can use the sample letter, extract from it, or compose your own. Additional informational resources are at the end of this alert.

Email addresses of those we suggest you write letters to are here.
* Brian Kelley, Secretary, Calif. State Transportation Agency <>;
* Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, Chair, State Senate Transportation Committee <>;
* Gov. Jerry Brown <>
You can find your own State representatives by going to []

Sample Letter to
Sec’y Brian Kelley, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier,  and Gov. Jerry Brown and your State Representative:
I urge you to respond to the findings in the State Smart Transportation Initiative Report: SSTI Assessment and Recommendations, which found Caltrans to be “out of step with the times, and with the needs of the state of California”  Further, I urge a halt and reassessment of  three particularly egregious Caltrans projects either under way or on line to begin in order to prevent irreversible damage to rare environmental habitats and values in Northern California.
The Report, as you know, found that Caltrans has not adjusted to changing times and values, and is stuck in a car and highway culture where faster and bigger meant better. Three Caltrans projects on California’s North Coast stand as examples of this “stuck-in-the-past” project planning:  
The Willits Bypass is draining 90 acres of precious wetlands for a giant interchange made for a four-lane freeway, when what Caltrans is building is a two-lane Bypass on Highway 101.  The argument for the need for the Bypass is based on traffic studies from decades ago.
The highway “realignment” through Richardson Grove State Park will seriously threaten mammoth ancient redwood trees for the benefit of larger trucks, which already travel the highway through exemptions. Incredibly, Caltrans argues there will be “no significant impact” to the old growth redwoods when they use jack-hammer type shovels to excavate around their roots.
A highway project planned for the northern-most area of California poses significant threats to the old growth redwood forests and salmon streams there in Del Norte County, and the wild Smith River ecosystem.
Given that we already have a fast interstate—Highway 5—up the middle of California, these projects are unnecessary, expensive and carry with them devastating environmental impacts. It is time to put the brakes on Caltrans!
Richardson Grove and the Del Norte projects are at a critical juncture because ground has not been broken, and the Willits Bypass can be downsized to plans already approved and save significant wetlands and money.
The opportunity is before you. The truth in the report has been acknowledged by your Transportation Departments. The Report should be used to evaluate future projects, but the potential irremediable harm of current projects cannot be underestimated.
I strongly urge you to take decisive action before more serious and irreversible damage is done to California’s precious redwoods, wetlands and other rare ecosystems by Caltrans projects that are not only out of step with the times and needs of communities in Northern California, but are expensive, water-wasting, unnecessary and unpopular with the people of California.
Thank you for your prompt action on these issues.
Your Name & email (Please send us a copy of your letter at

Further info:
* SSTI independent Report on Caltrans (there is an 8-page executive summary at the beginning of this voluminous report): []
* AP/CBS story: []
* Editorial in 2-3-14 SF Chronicle: []

No comments:

Post a Comment