I attended last night's Highway 1 scoping meeting and here are my observations. I hope you will run this piece on Fix Pacifica.
Thank you for your time,
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Route 1/Calera Parkway: Scoping out the Scoping Meeting
The public environmental scoping meeting was held on March 3 at the Pacifica Community Center with approximately 70 individuals in attendance including Mayor Sue Digre and other Council members. The meeting began at 7:30 p.m. and attendees were told there it would end promptly at 9:00 p.m.
The presentation, intended to provide the public with an overview of the scope and impact of the Highway 1 improvement project, was opened by Joseph Hurley of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. After a quick introductions and very general overview of the project’s process, Hurley handed off to Brad Leveen of Mark Thomas & Company to give a more focused, though short, description of two proposed improvement projects on the table for discussion. The bulk of the presentation was then handled by John Hesler of David J. Powers & Associates who discussed environmental impacts and his role in the project.
Both proposals seek to mitigate Reina Del Mar Avenue. by increasing the number of through lanes from two to three in each direction along Highway 1 from south of Fassler Avenue to north of
One proposal includes the option of a raised, landscaped median. To accommodate the extra space needed for the median, a more aggressive retaining wall system would be put in place with slightly more encroachment necessary on both the east and west sides of the highway.
The cost of completing both projects was roughly calculated to be $35-45 million. Funding for the project was to come primarily from the ½ cent sales tax intended by San Mateo County to be applied to transportation projects. Leveen admitted, however, that this would not fully fund the project and discussed stimulus funds and other unspecified sources for the remainder.
Presenting staff stated that traffic analysis at the point where Reina Del Mar intersects Highway 1 shows that two-thirds of the morning, north-bound traffic originates from points south of Fassler, with the remaining one-third coming from Fassler itself.
Difficulties presented to traffic planners include protected wetlands immediately to the west of Highway 1 in the considered corridor and Vallemar Station to the east, a structure with historic recognition. These serve as hard boundaries for the width of the proposed highway widening and necessarily restrict its scope.
Options that were considered, but ultimately rejected by the agencies involved included:
- scarcity of land on either side of highway
- little improvement of traffic
- cost would be 2-3 times the project currently envisioned
- if implemented, roadway would be raised at/around Reina Del Mar crossing point
- already at peak efficiency according to Caltrans
- would have little/no improvement on traffic given current speeds and traffic pattern
Enhanced transit service
- no reason given as to why this was dropped
During a one-hour comment period opened to attendees, the majority of comments focused on concern over a lack of information, data and presentation of alternatives related to the project. A number of comments were also raised relating to the severe impact that local schools were having on traffic patterns, specifically in the Vallemar area. The idea of resuming school-bus service to the community was raised by a number of attendees as a more sensible solution and suggested that the planners take this into consideration. Other comments wondered about the “life-span” of the widening project given county-wide growth projections and possible Quarry development.
The meeting ended with City Council member Vreeland stating that he would raise the possibility of another scoping meeting at the Transportation Authority meeting to be held on March 4. Vreeland agreed with most attendees that it was unreasonable to expect the public to offer meaningful commentary on the proposals given the lack of data available.