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November 2005
November 2005 Recap

Recap of Coastal Commission Hearing
on Caltrans' Proposed Design for Ten Mile Bridge
Los Angeles, November 16, 2005
Notes prepared by Mark Massara, Sierra Club
Edited by Vince Taylor

The hearing item was Caltrans request that the Coastal Commission concur with Caltrans design of Ten Mile Bridge as part of a Federal Consistency Review of the project. Although this was not a request for a development permit (which would come later), the Commission attempts to resolve all differences at this level. If the Commission concurred at this time, chances of changing the design later would be nil.

 The hearing was in Los Angeles. Vince Taylor and other coastal residents were unable to attend the meeting. Mark Massara, Sierra Club lawyer for coastal issues, represented the case for a design in keeping with the rural, scenic character of Highway 1 at Ten Mile River.

Caltrans was represented primarily by their lawyer, Tony Anziano, who in an effort to shut Vince Taylor out of the Ten Mile proceedings, ordered all Caltrans staff working on Ten Mile not to talk to Mr. Taylor or provide him with any documents, but to refer him to Mr. Anziano. He required Mr. Taylor to make all requests in writing, initiating an extensive, repetitive correspondence that produced no documents for over a month.

The major issue of contention was Caltrans' proposal for 8' shoulders, no sidewalks, and a (very ugly) 54" combination vehicle-pedestrian-bicycle railing. The Commission staff report supported this design and recommended concurrence; thus the public opposing the design had an uphill battle to fight, despite the comprehensive rebuttal of all of Caltrans' arguments in Vince Taylor's written testimony.

Caltrans started off, made a lame presentation and accused us of a "late  hit" which was bogus, and staff of course abandoned us; so we started  out in bad shape.  The staff made much of Caltrans' agreement that Ten Mile would not  serve as a precedent.

Below are Mark's edited notes of the meeting:

I was the only person to argue our side. I relied  on Vince's analysis and referred  commissioners to his letter numerous times.  I also asked that if  they couldn't agree with us today that they postpone hearing until  next month.

Mike Reilly "couldn't disagree more w/  staff and Caltrans" on the big  shoulders.  He said no warrant for more than 4-ft shoulder specified  in LCP [Local Costal Plan].  "The only reason I would support an 8-ft shoulder is to put  a sidewalk later. This is clearly part of the coastal trail and I'd like to see future  surveys in five and ten years."

Caltrans agreed to that .... and it took the wind out of our sails......

Neely then moved to approve the project.

Dave Allgood then said that horizontal bars block views while vertical  bars are scenic for moving cars.  What is the cost difference between ST-10 [the Noyo Bridge Railing] and  ST-20 [the 54" combination railing]?

Caltrans then said that they only have approval for ST-20.

Commissioner Sara Wan then raised a number of concerns: 

 "I don't  understand why in this rural area why you need 8-ft shoulders.  Some  survey later doesn't get us a sidewalk.  This is the coastal trail, you want to talk safety we need a sidewalk.  I will not support 8-ft  shoulder w/out a sidewalk.  And this rail issue, we have so much  background.  At Noyo, Caltrans told us there was no design for a see-through rail.  Vince Taylor worked with this commission to create a committee  and they worked with Caltrans for over a year and were able to come up w/ a  see-through railing design at Noyo.  I am having a hard time  understanding why we're not using what we worked so hard to get?   That statement again today that 'we don't have see-through rails' is the  same thing they said last time."

CCC staff: "We believe that ST-20 is a good see through rail.  as for  need for sidewalk, staff wrestled with.  We felt that the locations  were different- Noyo is urban, expectation for future growth.  Ten Mile is rural .... we want Caltrans to evaluate the situation in the  future....and we can include triggers for that work when Caltrans comes  back for the CDP [Coastal Development Permit]."

Wan:  "Read the State Parks letter, they express concerns regarding  impacts and the need for smaller shoulder."

Commissioner Patrick Kruer:  "I'm sitting here today wondering how we  got here - years ago we were stronger on this.  Taylor has offered, and I've been impressed with all the time he has invested.  I look at  this proposed rail and it doesn't have the appearance of something as  good as Noyo.  Noyo works, why change it?  I don't understand how we  got here."

Staff - Larry Simone:  "I think the Noyo railings - those two  railings fit the Noyo bridge project, and what Caltrans developed  thereafter is the follow-up, and they developed rail like ST-20 for  situations where traffic would not be separated from pedestrians/bikes etc.   I don't want to you to think the ST-20 replaces Noyo - the sites are  different."

Kruer:  "Tremendous contributions by Taylor, and he has been dead  right on.  Why would he oppose this if it were so good?  This is the California Coastal Trail, why wouldn't we provide a sidewalk?  We can do all the  surveys we want, now is the time to build.  If you don't get the sidewalk now, the chances of getting it later are remote."

Reilly:  "I would like to see a sidewalk, but I think allowing an 8-ft  shoulder now is the way....and I want to clarify that Albion [sic] is like  the Noyo- people use it and I want staff to include a sidewalk.  Also,  if people try to pass on the new 8-ft shoulder it will have to be  eliminated fast. 'Coastal cowboys' can be dangerous."

New Commissioner Larry Clark:  "I too am perplexed on the 8-ft  shoulder width.  This is the coastal trail.  This is not smart  coastal planning to retrofit later.  The time for a pedestrian  pathway is now."

Chairperson Meg Caldwell:  "I am mystified by this rail.  I realize it is safe, but it is  DOG UGLY. How can we make the findings under the coastal act that this is aesthetic and our early letters on the industrial ugly rails and it is clear to me that the Noyo design has some aesthetic relief.  I also agree with Clark that we should include the path now.

Clark:  "Amending motion to certify but revise shoulder requirement to  include a 'pedestrian pathway' w/ 'separation from traffic.'"

Then Caltrans interrupted:  We love the idea of a path but right now we have  a seismic project and a path would be an unnecessary delay.

Clark:  "I want the path integrated, not to add time to the project."

CCC Executive Director, Peter Douglas:  "I hear that you want a path, perhaps in the shoulder, w/ separation."

Clark:  "I would favor a specific timeframe requirement."

Reilly:  "I understand that Caltrans must come back w/ a CDP for this  project.  There may well be an opportunity to include the path/separated sidewalk at that time."

Douglas:  "You would have to 'conditionally concur'  the certification  today."

Caltrans: Lengthy response arguing against the changes because of delay, cost, safety, death, cost,  redesign.

Meg Caldwell:  "The Commission appreciates all that, but we want a separated  path phased into shoulder.  What would the phase-in look like?  You have said that you are going to do studies, what would the retrofit  NOW look like?"

Caltrans:  "It may result in 2-3 yr. delay.  What if you approve today the  certification, and we'll agree to allow this discussion at the time of the  CDP [Coastal Development Permit]? That would 'protect' the project schedule."

Douglas:  "This would be a conditional certification; that is the  safer way to go."

Reilly:  "I'm not sure we can get the separation included now or we  might jeopardize the federal funding."

Staff:  "I hear the CCC saying that they want the pedestrian path  and that Caltrans must acknowledge that the 8-ft shoulder is going to disappear.  They have to decide if they can live with that.

Caltrans:  "The Dept. feels strongly we need 8-ft shoulders for a variety of  reasons.  We cannot accept a finding requiring a sidewalk.  We would  be happy to try to convince you later for no sidewalk.....We feel  very strongly about 8-ft shoulder."

Meg:  "I'm thinking that your future surveys aren't going to be very  helpful - if you wanted to keep the 8-ft shoulder you'd have to augment the entire bridge with a sidewalk."

Douglas:  "I suggest you continue the matter and continue this  discussion."

Reilly:  "I think the best we can do today is to get assurance that we  can talk about the sidewalk later."

Caltrans:  "We have heard what you have to say and we will come back to you."

Secord:  "I am in favor of the 4-ft shoulder and separated pedestrian path."

Resources Agency non-voting member, Brian Baird:  "On behalf of resources agency and Governor we should follow Reilly and approve today with 'assurances.'" 

Commissioner Mary Shallenberger: "My read is that we have a strong  majority who want a path and separation.  If my read is correct, it is a  huge mistake and a disservice to Caltrans not to state that fact now and to  incorporate it now. It isn't going to get any easier later to  redesign the bridge."

Motion to approve replacement with the condition to include pedestrian path and  separation:
Clark w/ Wan second.

Caltrans:  "We have several ideas on rails, separation and shoulders. Rails  could be incorporated now, separation could be phased.  Re: Shoulders  we won't give. Anything less will destroy the project."

 Vote to include the conditions on shoulders and separated pedestrian path.

YES:                                                        NO:
Clark                                                        Neely
Wan                                                         Caldwell
Shallenberger                                          Potter
Secord                                                     Reilly


 Unanimous vote to concur with specified conditions


Mark Massara represents the Sierra Club at almost every Coastal Commission meeting. His detailed meeting accounts,  along with other coastal information at coastwatcher.com.

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