College Avenue Safeway rebuild

Final Project List:

Final project link with text

Oakland's final project list with linked project fact sheets

Overall project map.

Project location maps, with links to project fact sheets

Supplemental meeting material:

Noise Study Executive Summary

Hwy. 24 Noise Study

More information:

•  Wlad Wlassowsky, Oakland Transportation Services Division Manager, wwlassowsky@oaklandnet.com•  Victoria Eisen, consultant managing public process for the Caldecott projects, victoria@eisenletunic. com

City of Oakland settlement terms:

Many important Rockridge items are included.  Read a full description here.

FBC settlement terms:

settlement agreement picture

Among other settlement terms, Caltrans agreed to limit construction impacts including noise, dirt and traffic, and to make improvements to Frog Park.

FBC logo

Founding Organizations:

  • North Hills Phoenix Association
  • Parkwoods Community Association
  • Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association
  • Rockridge Community Planning Council
  • East Bay Bicycle Coalition
  • FROG Park

Fourth Bore contact info:

2930 Domingo Ave., #139
Berkeley, CA 94705
510.845.9316
www.fourthbore.org

CALDECOTT TUNNEL FOURTH BORE UPDATE

News in reverse chronological order

June 2, 2012: Caldecott Settlement Project List Posted: Soundwall Studies, Intersections, Bicycle Facilities, More, Proposed for Funding

During 2010 and 2011, the city of Oakland developed, through public meetings, a ranked list of projects to fund with the $8 million Caltrans paid Oakland in a settlement reached over the adequacy of environmental reports which studied effects on the neighborhood of the Caldecott Tunnel's fourth bore construction.

The ranking process included meetings with the Fourth Bore Coalition; a series of walking tours of the North Oakland Hills, Rockridge and Temescal areas; and more than 250 comments from a community meeting held in November 2010. The final list of 37 projects is available below and here.

The following report discusses the status of projects 1 through 21 which are above a funding cut-off line based on the $8 million available. The line could move up or down as project details evolve. Projects are sometimes referred to as "above-the-line" or "below-the-line."

•  Projects 1 through 6
City staff and Caltrans staff and consultants developed designs of the first six projects which were presented at a community meeting at Kaiser Elementary School March 26, 2012 (Rockridge News, April 2012). Projects 1 through 4 lie completely in the North Hills area. Projects 5 and 6 lie partially in Rockridge. The city is reviewing public comments, and is hopeful these projects will be under construction by summer 2013.

•  Developing remaining projects
Projects 7 and 8 are Highway 24 soundwall studies. The city has hired consultant Victoria Eisen of Eisen|Letunic, who managed the public process to develop the ranked list, to coordinate an informational public meeting at which the soundwall study process prescribed by ACTC will be presented, along with other relevant information. The meeting is tentatively planned for late September. Watch for more information in The Rockridge News.

Projects 9 and 14 involve Caltrans right-of-way and will be managed under a consultant contract expected to begin in fall 2012. Above-the-line projects entirely on the city's right-of-way (projects 12 and 13) will be designed by the city. Designs of all projects relating to each other will be coordinated, regardless of who handles the design work.

Oakland staff will begin refining the conceptual designs of the other above-the-line projects in early 2013, once final designs of the first six projects are complete. Construction of projects on city streets is expected in late 2013 or early 2014.

Construction of those that modify a Highway 24 ramp will likely take place later in 2014.

•  The Movable Funding Line
Below-the-line projects are worthy projects on the city's Fourth Bore Caldecott Tunnel Settlement Agreement Project List which are not currently funded from the $8 million settlement fund. Essentially, projects 22-37 are the "wait list" which evolved out of the public process. These projects include: 22-25, as shown, and additional soundwall studies and intersection improvements in Rockridge and Temescal. Note: The complete list of 37 projects was also published in the May 2011 Rockridge News and are available below.

Projects and Estimated Costs
1 Tunnel Road/SR 13/Hiller Drive Intersection Improvements $950,000
2 Pedestrian Facilities on Caldecott Lane/Tunnel Road $650-850,000
3 Bicycle Facilities on Caldecott Lane/Tunnel Road $290,000
4 Caldecott Lane/Kay overcrossing Intersection Improvements $100,000
5 Bike facilities on Broadway from Brookside Avenue to Kay OC $410,000
6 Jogging/walking path on Broadway from Golden Gate to Lake Temescal $275,000
7 Soundwall study: Eastbound between Vicente Way and Broadway $554,000
8 Soundwall study: Westbound between Ross Street and Telegraph Avenue $628,000
9 Broadway/Keith Intersection Improvements* $840,000
10 College/Keith Intersection Improvements $235,000
11 Bike Route Signage at Rockridge BART $20,000
12 Broadway/Lawton Intersection Improvements* $400,,000
13 Broadway/Ocean View intersection improvements* $400,000
14 Broadway/Brookside/SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements $295,000
15 Rockridge BART Bicycle Parking $100,000
16 On-street Bicycle Parking in Commercial Areas $30,000
17 52nd/51st/SR 24 ramps/Shattuck Intersection Improvements $635,000
18 Soundwall study: Westbound between Patton Street and Ross Street $179,000
19 Alternatives' Analysis of Lake Temescal - Tunnel Rd Bike/ped connections $200,000
20 College/Miles Intersection Improvements $160,000
21 Claremont/Hudson/SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements $180,000
Total Cost for project 1-21 including consultant costs, all projects after #21 are not funded i.e. fall "below the line" $8,081,000
22 College/Manila intersection improvements $200,000
23 Pedestrian Scale Lighting on Telegraph from 42nd Street to Berkeley border $240,000
24 Soundwall study: Eastbound between 40th and 52nd Streets $425,000
25 Soundwall study: Westbound between Telegraph Ave. and M.L.K. Jr Way $306,000
26 Telegraph/56th/Eastbound SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements $230,000
27 Soundwall study: Eastbound between Broadway and Golden Gate Avenue $312,000
28 College/Claremont intersection improvements $225,000
29 Broadway/Manila Intersection Improvements $257,000
30 Telegraph/Aileen/SR24 Off-Ramp Intersection Improvements $113,000
31 Sounwall study: Eastbound between 52 Street and Claremont Avenue $289,000
32 Sounwall study: Eastbound between Golden Gate and Lake Temescal $356,000
33 Sounwall study: Westbound between MLK on-ramp and 40 Street $304,000
34 Sounwall study: Westbound between Golden Gate and Patoon $231,000
35 AC Transit Route 51 Service Improvements $920,000
36 Telegraph/Claremont/52 Street Improvements $240,000
37 Bicycle and Pedestrian Park Rest Stop $192,000

More information: •  Wlad Wlassowsky, Oakland Transportation Services Division Manager, wwlassowsky@oaklandnet.com; •  Victoria Eisen, consultant managing public process for the Caldecott projects, victoria@eisenletunic. com.

April 6, 2012: Caldecott Settlement Project Examined

City staff and consultants joined City Council member Jane Brunner in a public meeting to discuss the first six projects included in Oakland's settlement agreement with Caltrans over the Caldecott Improvement Project, or Fourth Bore.

The goal of the meeting, held March 26 at Kaiser Elementary School, was for participants to tell the city their thoughts on these designs, before the city moves forward to the final pre-construction stage.

The settlement was reached in 2008 after Oakland had objected to the impacts a fourth bore added to the Caldecott Tunnel would have on the North Oakland community. Of the six projects, four are in the North Hills area north of Highway 24 along Tunnel Road and Caldecott Lane, while two involve the upper section of Broadway east of Brookside Road in Rockridge. The two Rockridge projects would improve the pedestrian path and add bicycle lanes along Broadway.

After the city's presentation and discussion of plans for the six projects, the meeting was opened to audience comments and questions.

Most concerns centered on the North Hills projects, especially their impacts on bicyclists. RCPC expressed concern about the loss of on-street parking spaces in the section of Broadway between Brookside and Golden Gate, which could put additional pressure on parking spaces on the residential streets.

Fact sheets on the 6 projects are available for review on the Fourth Bore Coalition's web site via: http://tinyurl.com/7yncyak.

Council Member Brunner's office also announced it would host a meeting later in the spring to begin the public process for considering whether soundwalls are warranted for some portions of Highway 24 in Rockridge. Consideration of soundwalls was another element of the settlement.

More information will be provided in the May issue of the Rockridge News.

May 6, 2011: Caldecott Settlement Project List Posted: Soundwall Studies, Intersections, Bicycle Facilities, More, Proposed for Funding

The final list of projects to be funded through the city of Oakland's $8 million Settlement Agreement with Caltrans over the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore EIR was released March 23. These projects are intended to ameliorate the impacts to the North Oakland Hills, Rockridge and Temescal districts of adding the fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel. According to the agreement, projects must "have as their primary purpose the improvement of pedestrian, bicycle, transit and local street improvements, noise barriers, including projects that support the use of transit (and the reduction of single-occupant motorized vehicles, such as transit signal coordination and amenities), to the greater community in the Highway 24 corridor between I-580 and the Caldecott Tunnel."

Public Input in Creating the List

The project list has been finalized through a series of three 3-hour-long walking tours of affected areas, considering over 250 public comments, and a public meeting held in November, 2010. More details on the intent and conceptual design of these projects are available at here. The project cost estimates include a budget for public involvement in project design decisions.

Next Steps

An agreement with the Alameda County Transportation Commission and Caltrans must be signed with the city regarding funding and the list of projects. While this process is underway, each project will be evaluated to determine if more design work is needed prior to further community meetings, or vice-versa. The city intends to begin by focusing on the first six projects on the list.

Once the design of those projects and pre-construction work is underway, the community will be asked to participate in the development of projects farther down the list. You will be directly notified of opportunities to participate in the design of these projects.

In addition, the Fourth Bore Coalition will continue to track this process at www.fourthbore.org, as will the RCPC. All material in this report, and additional information,is available at http://www.fourthbore.org

Projects and Estimated Costs
1 Tunnel Road/SR 13/Hiller Drive Intersection Improvements $950,000
2 Pedestrian Facilities on Caldecott Lane/Tunnel Road $650,000
3 Bicycle Facilities on Caldecott Lane/Tunnel Road $290,000
4 Caldecott Lane/Kay overcrossing Intersection Improvements $290,000
5 Bike facilities on Broadway from Brookside Avenue to Kay OC $410,000
6 Jogging/walking path on Broadway from Golden Gate to Lake Temescal $275,000
7 Soundwall study: Eastbound between Vicente Way and Broadway $554,000
8 Soundwall study: Westbound between Ross Street and Telegraph Avenue $628,000
9 Broadway/Keith Intersection Improvements* $840,000
10 College/Keith Intersection Improvements $235,000
11 Bike Route Signage at Rockridge BART $20,000
12 Broadway/Lawton Intersection Improvements* $400,,000
13 Broadway/Ocean View intersection improvements* $400,000
14 Broadway/Brookside/SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements $295,000
15 Rockridge BART Bicycle Parking $100,000
16 On-street Bicycle Parking in Commercial Areas $30,000
17 52nd/51st/SR 24 ramps/Shattuck Intersection Improvements $635,000
18 Soundwall study: Westbound between Patton Street and Ross Street $179,000
19 Alternatives' Analysis of Lake Temescal - Tunnel Rd Bike/ped connections $200,000
20 College/Miles Intersection Improvements $160,000
21 Claremont/Hudson/SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements $180,000
Total Cost for project 1-21 including consultant costs, all projects after #21 are not funded i.e. fall "below the line" $8,081,000
22 College/Manila intersection improvements $200,000
23 Pedestrian Scale Lighting on Telegraph from 42nd Street to Berkeley border $240,000
24 Soundwall study: Eastbound between 40th and 52nd Streets $425,000
25 Soundwall study: Westbound between Telegraph Ave. and M.L.K. Jr Way $306,000
26 Telegraph/56th/Eastbound SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements $230,000
27 Soundwall study: Eastbound between Broadway and Golden Gate Avenue $312,000
28 College/Claremont intersection improvements $225,000
29 Broadway/Manila Intersection Improvements $257,000
30 Telegraph/Aileen/SR24 Off-Ramp Intersection Improvements $113,000
31 Sounwall study: Eastbound between 52 Street and Claremont Avenue $289,000
32 Sounwall study: Eastbound between Golden Gate and Lake Temescal $356,000
33 Sounwall study: Westbound between MLK on-ramp and 40 Street $304,000
34 Sounwall study: Westbound between Golden Gate and Patoon $231,000
35 AC Transit Route 51 Service Improvements $920,000
36 Telegraph/Claremont/52 Street Improvements $240,000
37 Bicycle and Pedestrian Park Rest Stop $192,000

November 6, 2010: Tunnel Mitigation Money to Fund Many Rockridge Projects: Please Attend Nov. 8 meeting or Comment! (Oakland settlement)

Rockridge residents are invited to a Nov. 8 public meeting to discuss a proposed list of transportation projects along Highway 24 west of Caltrans’ Caldecott Tunnel Project.

Plan to attend this important meeting Monday, November 8 at 7 p.m. Kaiser Elementary School, 25 South Hill Court (Hiller Highlands Neighborhood). For carpool information from Rockridge BART, email info@rockridge.org .

The city of Oakland received an $8 million settlement when it negotiated with Caltrans on the construction of the tunnel’s 4th bore. The projects serve to mitigate the impacts of the new bore and to enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the area that includes the Rockridge and Temescal districts.

The goal of the meeting is for residents and merchants in the North Oakland Hills, Rockridge and Temescal neighborhoods to learn about the list of proposed projects and for the City to hear meeting participants’ perspectives on these projects. This input will be used to generate a final project list. Meeting participants will be introduced to the process that led to this list of projects and will hear a presentation on the projects themselves.

To help prepare participants, the City’s draft project list and links to project fact sheets and location maps are available at www.fourthbore.org and here. The project engineering diagrams should be considered conceptual and are intended to convey an idea of the project; prior to City implementing a project with multiple options, additional public process will take place.

Draft project link with text Rockridge projects

 

 

 

 

 

Many worthwhile Rockridge projects will potentially be funded within the $8 million settlement. They include:
•  Broadway Bike lanes, Brookside Ave. to Caldecott Sports Field; $410,000
•  Broadway Walking path from Golden Gate Ave. to Lake Temescal; $275,000
•  Soundwall study: Eastbound between Vicente Rd and Broadway; $554,000
•  Soundwall study: Westbound between Ross Street and Ayala Ave.; $487,000
•  Broadway/Keith Intersection Improvements; $840,000
•  College/Keith Intersection Improvements; $95,000
•  Bike Route Signage at Rockridge BART; $20,000
•  Broadway/Lawton Intersection Improvements; $400,000
•  Broadway/SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements; $295,000
•  Rockridge BART Bicycle Parking; $100,000
•  On-street Bicycle Parking in Commercial Areas; $30,000
•  Telegraph/Claremont/52nd Intersection Improvements; $240,000

Worthy projects not currently funded:
•  Soundwall studies: additional Rockridge locations with lower ACTC effectiveness criteria
•  College/Claremont Intersection Improvements; $225,000
•  Broadway/Manila Intersection Improvements; $257,000
•  Claremont/Hudson/SR 24 On-ramp Intersection Improvements; $180,000
•  AC Transit Route 51 Service Improvement; $920,000

The public comment period extends until November 22. Submit comments to Iris Starr via e-mail: istarr@oaklandnet.com, phone: 510/238-1725; fax: 238-7415. Letters may be mailed to: Iris Starr, Division Manager, Infrastructure Plans and Programming, City of Oakland Public Works Agency, 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 4344, Oakland, CA 94612.

So the City knows what neighborhood you live in, please provide either your address or nearby intersection in your comments.

October 2, 2010: Community Meeting to Review Caldecott Tunnel Settlement Projects November 8 (Oakland settlement)

Councilmember Jane Brunner is hosting a community meeting Monday, November 8 at 7 p.m. at Kaiser Elementary School, 25 South Hill Court (Hiller High-lands) to review and discuss projects proposed for the City of Oakland Caldecott Settlement Agreement. Please attend! This might be your only public opportunity to make your voice heard on these crucial projects.

In November 2008, the City of Oakland concluded a settlement agreement with Caltrans that included $8 million of “enhancement” projects located in the North Oakland Hills, Rockridge, and Temescal. A complete list can be found at www.rockridge.org.The intent was to ameliorate the operational impacts of adding a fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel. Two major proposed projects in Rockridge are improved pedestrian crossings at the Broadway/Keith extended intersection and at the Broadway/Lawton intersection, with additional projects identified during June’s Walking Tours.

When finalized, fact sheets will be posted here prior to the meeting. Carpools to Kaiser will depart from the Rockridge BART station starting at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact info@rockridge.org.

July 2, 2010: 4th Bore Mitigation Areas Surveyed in Consultant’s Rockridge Walking Tour (Oakland settlement)Representatives from the Rockridge neighborhood, including Claremont Middle and Chabot schools, the City of Oakland Transportation Services Department, RCPC, Rockridge District Association (RDA), East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC), North Hills Phoenix Association (NHPA), Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) and consultants participated in the Oakland mitigation walking tour early in June.

The tour was to determine mitigative measures that would help offset impending noise and traffic expected to result from construction of the new tunnel and subsequent increased vehicle traffic on Hwy. 24.The lengthy tour started at the Claremont and College Avenue intersection, proceeded along College Avenue to Manila Avenue, then cut over to Broadway to finish at Brookside. Along the way, participants explained intersection issues and worked with the consultants on pedestrian and bike improvements. Pedestrian crossing issues along Broadway and Claremont Avenues were also mentioned.

Installation of soundwalls is another project on the list. A noise study by con-sultant Wilson Ihrig, commissioned by Caltrans as part of the Oakland settlement, ascertained sound levels along Hwy. 24 residences between Hwy. 13 and I-580. Many locations qualify for soundwalls based on noise levels equal to or greater than 65 dB, including residences along Keith, Locksley, and Miles avenues.

RCPC has submitted background material on potential projects to the city of Oakland. During the summer, the City plans to develop project fact sheets for the public meetings.The RCPC September Town Hall will be the Rockridge meeting venue for the public meetings. Watch for more information in the September Rockridge News and on this website.

June 5, 2010: Bore Mitigation Projects to be Rated (Oakland settlement)

The Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) filed a lawsuit against Caltrans over its plans to add a fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel. In January 2009, the FBC settled its lawsuit under threat by Governor Schwarzenegger. The settlement included $3 million for air quality and noise mitigation for two Rockridge public schools immediately adjacent to Hwy. 24, Claremont Middle School and Chabot Elementary. The FBC is a coalition of local community groups in Oakland and Berkeley centered around Highway 24, including RCPC and FROG.

Of the settlement funds, $2 million comes from the state Air Resources Board for upgrades to the ventilation systems of all buildings and classrooms at both schools.

An additional $1 million grant was provided by CalFire’s Urban Forestry Program for landscape barriers to mitigate noise and air quality impacts from increased traffic expected to occur after construction of the new tunnel bore.

Separately, the city of Oakland signed a Settlement Agreement with Caltrans over the environmental assessment of the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel project, in June 2008, ending months of negotiations. The settlement called on Caltrans to fund “enhancement” projects meant to: “Improve pedestrian, bicycle, transit and local streets; create barriers to noise; and include projects that support the use of transit (and thus reduction of single-occupant motorized vehicles), such as transit signal coordination and amenities for the greater community in the Highway 24 corridor between I-580 and the Caldecott Tunnel.”

Around 20 higher priority Phase I projects, estimated to cost $8.2 million (2008 dollars), were listed in the settlement. An additional $4 million in Phase II projects was partially developed in case any Phase I projects drop off the list, e.g., infeasible; funded by another source; or in case Phase I project costs turned out to be less than initially estimated.

The process to identify Phase II projects and prioritize all the projects to be funded with this money is now underway. A series of walk audits to tour potential improvement projects with neighborhood leaders occurred in early June. Next, one-page sheets will be created, describing the location, purpose and estimated cost of each. These sheets will draw heavily on data provided by the Fourth Bore Coalition as well as information conveyed during the walk audits and collision and traffic data for each location.

Using criteria developed in conjunction with Council President Jane Brunner’s office, the public, including Rockridge residents, will be asked to help create the final, prioritized list of all projects in Fall 2010.

Phase I projects in the Rockridge area include:

• Broadway/Lawton: New signal
• Broadway/Keith, College/Keith, College/Miles: Signal upgrades
• Install sidewalks along Broadway between Golden Gate Avenue and Kay Overcrossing.
• Soundwalls: At priority locations, to be identified.

Phase II projects include:

•On/off ramp improvements for pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles safety and access.
• Bicycle safety and access improvements at the Rockridge BART.
•Traffic Signal Transit Coordination and Synchronization Program along Claremont, College and Broadway.
• Soundwalls: At priority locations, to be identified.

Consulting firm, Eisen|Letunic, with the technical assistance of Fehr & Peers, is leading this effort on behalf of the city of Oakland.  Please contact Victoria Eisen of the consultant team at victoria@eisenletunic.com if you have any questions about this process.

April 22, 2009 Rockridge schools get $3 million for air pollution, noise mitigation from State Legislature(Fourth Bore Coalition lawsuit settlement)

With money to support a settlement reached in January between Caltrans and legislative moneythe Fourth Bore Coalition, state Sen. Loni   Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, presented a check for $3 million to Oakland Unified School District officials on April 17 on the baseball field at Chabot Elementary  School .

Specialized air-filtration systems and trees will be installed  at Chabot Elementary School and Claremont Middle School.   These measures will help mitigate  air quality  and noise impacts  from increased traffic caused by the fourth Caldecott Tunnel bore, scheduled to begin construction this summer.

Of the funds, $2 million comes from the state Air Resources Board for upgrades to the ventilation systems of all buildings and classrooms at both schools. An additional $1 million grant was provided by CalFire's Urban Forestry Program for landscape barriers to mitigate noise expected from increased traffic  expected to occur after construction of the new tunnel bore. 

 

February 9, 2009 FBC CALDECOTT LAWSUIT SETTLES UNDER THREAT FROM GOVERNOR

Governor Schwarzenegger’s demand that the Caldecott Improvement Project – also known as the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Project – move forward, plus the intervention of the legislature’s Democratic leadership, pressured the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC), which includes RCPC among its members, into accepting a settlement of its lawsuit over adding the fourth bore to the tunnel.

Although less than what the FBC hoped for from its suit, the settlement terms are an improvement over what Caltrans had offered during extended discussions last year.

As reported in January’s Rockridge News, the Governor, in the name of providing an “economic stimulus,” proposed a retroactive exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the Caldecott project and 10 other highway projects. He stated flatly that he would not sign an amended budget unless it included those exemptions, effectively holding the State budget hostage.

The Democratic legislative leadership, and particularly Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, strongly opposed this move. Nevertheless, the FBC was told candidly that, given solid Republican support and other legislators’ fear of being blamed for the State’s insolvency, the CEQA exemption was likely to pass. The result would have been to derail and negate the pending lawsuit (the judge had been expected to issue a decision within weeks) and leave the FBC with nothing to show for its years of efforts.

At the suggestion of Senator Steinberg and California League of Conservation Voters President Tom Adams, FBC leaders and legal counsel met with Caltrans to hammer out a settlement.

The most significant result of the settlement was Caltrans’ commitment to spend $2 million for improvements to State Route (SR) 13, the Ashby Avenue and Tunnel Road corridor, including improvements for some intersections and for pedestrian and bicycle travel. These will help offset traffic increases expected with the newfourth bore.

Caltrans also committed to spend up to $250,000 for a study of the entire SR 24 corridor, from I-580 to I-680. It will consider potential transportation improvements, including High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (HOV) and/or toll lanes, BART and other transit service improvements, current and projected noise levels at the Rockridge BART station platform, and reducing other major impacts of the highway including traffic, noise, and air pollution. However, it provides no funds to implement the study’s results.

Fourth Bore Coalition negotiators were unable to prod Caltrans to do much more to alleviate major construction impacts on those living close to the project. Oakland, in its settlement earlier of a threatened suit, got Caltrans to restrict hauling operations to daylight hours and to limit nighttime noise increases; Caltrans adamantly refused to go any further. However, the highway construction agency did commit, reluctantly, to using low-sulfur diesel for off-road construction equipment. This will help reduce the project’s effect on local air quality. Caltrans also committed to keeping dirt-hauling trucks off local streets and to work with the community to minimize impacts from dirt stockpiling at or near the site.

Caltrans also agreed to fund a barrier along the highway’s edge above FROG Park to protect the park from falling debris, and agreed to consider expanding the park by including unused Caltrans right-of-way land. These agreements will not mitigate the expected noise impacts on the park, but provide some protection and compensation. The agency also committed an additional $100,000 for FROG Park or bicycle transit improvements or to provide additional support for the SR 24 corridor study.

Last, but certainly not least, were several commitments made, not by Caltrans, but by Senator Steinberg and the Democratic Legislative leadership, that promised up to $2 million for noise and air quality mitigation efforts at Chabot Elementary and Claremont Middle schools, as long as the school district provided adequate documentation justifying the expenditures.

Steinberg’s office also promised to work with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC) and BART to identify State funds for bicycle transit improvements along the corridor. An unnamed legislator also apparently agreed to carry a bill that could lead to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) land along Claremont Avenue being converted to public recreational use once the current building reaches the end of its useful life.

Neither the settlement itself nor the process was what the FBC had hoped for. Still, all in all, especially given the unpleasant circumstances, the settlement provides a small but significant offset to the many impacts the Caldecott project will have on the Oakland/Berkeley community. Perhaps the most unfortunate part of the outcome is what it says about our dysfunctional California political system, and how it was so willing to sacrifice the environment and our community to satisfy special interests.

January 9, 2009 GOVERNOR VETOES STATE BUDGET, CONTINUES TO PRESS LEGISLATURE TO EXEMPT CALDECOTT PROJECT FROM ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW (FBC LAWSUIT STATUS)

The “In My Opinion” article on the front page of the January edition of the Rockridge News told of Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to exempt major highway projects, including the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Project, from environmental review.  Since then, the Governor has continued to press legislative leaders to exempt these projects from all environmental requirements.  One new element is a proposal for a “superpanel” made up of three of the Governor’s cabinet appointees that could overrule any environmental condition placed on a project by a state regulatory agency.  Another, and perhaps even more controversial, provision would not only exempt the projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), but would void any court order or judgment holding that a project had violated CEQA.  There are significant questions of whether this last proposal is even constitutionally valid. 

With the governor’s veto of the Democrat-passed budget bill, the threat has become less pressing.  However, the danger is far from over.  Assembly Speaker Karen Bass was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as saying, “So far, legislative leaders have compromised, … … We've compromised by easing environmental restrictions for transportation projects.” To his credit, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said that he found the prospect of attempting to overrule the courts disturbing and rejected a retroactive CEQA exemption. Neither of our local legislators, Assembly Member Nancy Skinner or Senator Loni Hancock, has taken a public position on the governor’s proposal.  The governor and Republican legislators can be expected to continue to press to let the Caldecott project get built in disregard of its impacts, and the Democratic leadership has hinted that more “compromises” could be in the works.

January 5, 2009: Governor Calls for 4th Bore CEQA Exemption by Ann Smulka, Chair, Fourth Bore Coalition, Rockridge News "In My Opinion"

Governor Schwarzenegger has used the current state budget crises to add one more brick to the wall of distrust between Californians and their government leaders. He has told the Legislature that he’ll veto any budget bill that doesn’t exempt the Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore and other controversial infrastructure projects from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). His excuse is that these projects need to move forward quickly. “We’ve got to act on behalf of the people,” he said, adding further, “and what we have to do is, we have to create jobs as quickly as possible, stimulate the economy.” But exempting these huge projects from environmental review would be penny wise and pound foolish.

The Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore project is a prime example of what’s wrong with this approach. It is precisely because Caltrans failed to address the impacts this project will have on the communities and environment along the Highway 24 corridor that the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) filed a legal challenge under CEQA. The Governor wants a complete CEQA exemption for this and other major construction projects, with no attempt to address the environmental damage that would result.

Using the budget crisis to eliminate environmental safeguards is tantamount to extortion. It also ignores the benefits CEQA has provided in the past; for example, replacing Caltrans’ damaging proposal for a Devil’s Slide bypass on Highway 1 by what everyone now agrees is a far better tunneling project.

Project’s EIR Disregarded Rockridge Schools

The issue with the Caldecott Improvement Project is not whether a fourth bore should be built, but to acknowledge and  mitigate the project’s impacts on nearby schools, residents, and the natural environment. Caltrans’ environmental impact report (EIR) for the project closed its eyes to the project’s impacts. The EIR, in promoting the project’s traffic benefits, considered traffic operations over the entire length of the Highway 24 corridor.

Yet, at the same time, Caltrans refused to include in the EIR’s analysis the impacts on schools and other sensitive receptors immediately adjacent to Highway 24, claiming they were too far from the actual construction. Claremont Middle and Anthony Chabot Elementary Schools, as well as other local schools and parks, are already subjected to hazardous air and noise pollution impacts from the highway, impacts that will be made even worse by this project. Excluding the noise and air-quality impacts of project generated traffic on these schools, as well as on thousands of other nearby residents is unconscionable.

A governor who is allegedly passionate about helping kids and who claims a leadership role in creating a greener environment should not be offering Caltrans a blank check to do the damage and not the repair the damage.

The Governor also ignores the fact that measures to mitigate project impacts will also involve construction and, indeed, will increase the number of jobs the project will generate. If the Governor is truly interested in effective economic stimulus, he should include mitigating the adverse impacts of the project on the health and safety of children, pedestrians, bicyclists, and residents along the corridor.

Exempting the fourth bore from CEQA means the project will be built with total disregard for its environmental costs. Indeed, the Governor’s blanket CEQA exemption may even eliminate the token mitigation Caltrans had agreed to in order to obtain the City of Oakland’s non-opposition to the project.

If our governor truly believes in protecting and improving the environment, he needs to retract this unconscionable exemption proposal and restore our trust in his leadership. If the voters cannot trust the State government here, what are we voters to think when the Governor asks our support for other potentially damaging projects like a peripheral canal or a new dam?

We must keep our environmental protections in place and build wisely, not rashly.

December 7, 2008: Caldecott Project Lawsuit Now in
Judge’s Hands for January Decision

After two three-and-a-half hour sessions of oral argument, the Fourth Bore Coalition’s lawsuit challenging Caltrans’ Caldecott Improvement Project has been submitted to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch for a decision. With almost 90 pages of briefing and more than 32,000 pages of administrative documents to read through, that decision could be a while in coming.

The Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) includes the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC) as well as the FROG Park Committee, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and several other Oakland/Berkeley community groups. FBC sued Caltrans over its decision, made over a year ago, to add a fourth bore, or tunnel, to the Caldecott
Tunnel connecting Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The suit is not about whether a fourth bore should be built. Rather, the Coalition asked reconsideration of how it would be built, how it should be operated, and what mitigation measures should have been included with the project. In the two hearings, the Coalition was represented by local attorneys Stuart Flashman and Antonio Rossmann. The hearings covered a wide range of issues from noise, lighting, traffic, bicycling and pedestrian safety impacts to whether Caltrans should have looked at having carpool/bus lanes as part of the project.

Judge Roesch listened attentively throughout and asked probing questions of both sides. The Judge seemed particularly skeptical of why Caltrans chose to limit the area it looked at for project impacts and to exclude consideration of impacts on Claremont Middle School and Chabot Elementary School - both located very close to Highway 24 and the traffic coming and going through the tunnel.

Under state law, the judge must issue his decision within 60 days. The case was submitted for decision on November 5.

November 5, 2008: Fourth Bore Coalition awaits judge's lawsuit ruling

Trial began Friday, Oct. 31 before Judge Roesch of the Alameda County Superior Court. After extended argument by counsel on both sides, and pointed questioning by the judge, the matter was continued until Wednesday, Nov. 5. A decision is expected perhaps 10 days after the trial ends; it cannot be more than 60 days.

November 3, 2008: Fourth Bore Challenge Gets Day in Court

In November, 2007, six neighborhood and environmental groups – including the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC) and FROG – known collectively as the Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC), filed suit against Caltrans based on its failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit argued that Caltrans failed to adequately address serious noise, health, and traffic issues that would result from the proposed Fourth Bore project during and after its construction.

The project would add a fourth tunnel (bore) to the Caldecott Tunnel over the course of a year’s construction. The lawsuit’s filing sparked extended negotiations between Caltrans and FBC, and separate negotiations between the City of Oakland and Caltrans. The negotiations, made at the behest of FBC to Councilmember Jane Brunner and other Oakland councilmembers, resulted in a settlement of Oakland’s threatened lawsuit against Caltrans.

The settlement Caltrans and Oakland reached contains a promise to fund $8 million in mitigations of noise and traffic impacts of the project, most of which were also requested by FBC from Caltrans.

However, given the immense size of the project, FBC believes that the Oakland/ Caltrans settlement is woefully inadequate to address additional substantial negative and lasting impacts the project will have on Rockridge and nearby neighborhoods.

Those impacts include increased noise during construction and after it is completed, increased and continuing pollution at schools and parks located alongside Highway 24, and increased traffic on city streets in the area. Caltrans has been unwilling to address these remaining serious impacts, so FBC continued with its lawsuit.

The suit came to trial on October 31 before Judge Roesch, with Tony Rossman and Stuart Flashman representing the FBC, including RCPC and FROG. In the packed courtroom were several spectators in support of the FBC, and several Caltrans representatives.

After hearing 3-1/2 hours of spirited argument, Judge Roesch noted that the case involved several issues, and continued the trial to Wednesday, November 5, at 9am, before the same court.

Coalition members hope that members of the community will support this difficult but important effort by volunteering their time through one of the Coalition’s member organizations or through tax-deductible contributions (make payable to: Sierra Club Foundation/FBC). Send checks to: Fourth Bore Coalition, 2980 Domingo Ave., #139, Berkeley, CA 94705

August 4, 2008 Fourth Bore Coalition rejects Caltrans settlement offer and proceeds with lawsuit preparations

The Fourth Bore Coalition is a coalition of local community groups in Oakland and Berkeley centered around Highway 24 and concerned about Caltrans’ Caldecott Improvement Project, a plan prepared in conjunction with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to add a fourth bore to that tunnel.  The Coalition includes the Rockridge Community Planning Council, North Hills Phoenix Association, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, the Parkwoods Community Association, and FROG Park. 

Last December, the Coalition sued Caltrans over its approval of the Fourth Bore Project.  Shortly thereafter, the Coalition, Caltrans, and CCTA began earnest discussions attempting to settle the litigation.  Since then, the Coalition has, with advice from a variety of technical experts, proposed a variety of mitigations designed to address the significant negative impacts on Oakland and Berkeley communities from both the construction and operation of the new bore.  Unfortunately, almost all those mitigations have been rejected by Caltrans and CCTA.

Meanwhile, the City of Oakland reached its own confidential settlement with CalTrans, providing a few mitigations for Oakland residents and businesses (the complete public settlement document is available online). In return, Oakland agreed not to carry through on its threat to join the Coalition in suing Caltrans over the project.

After over six months of negotiations, offers, and counteroffers, the Coalition, Caltrans, and CCTA remain unable to reach a settlement. Caltrans and CCTA presented their final settlement proposal to the Coalition on July 30th.  After consideration, the Coalition’s board of directors decided that the offer was completely inadequate to address the environmental damage and dangers to community health and safety that the project would create.  The board therefore voted unanimously to reject the offer.

The Coalition must now move forward with its litigation. Coalition volunteers are now reviewing the more than 33,000 pages of documents that form the administrative record for the project.  The Coalition’s attorneys have begun preparing legal arguments to present to the court. The case will be heard on October 24, 2008 in Alameda County Superior Court before Judge Frank Roesch. Coalition members hope that members of the community will support this difficult but important effort by volunteering their time through one of the Coalition’s member organizations or through tax-deductible contributions (make payable to: Sierra Club Foundation/FBC). Send checks to: Fourth Bore Coalition, 2980 Domingo Ave., #139, Berkeley, CA 94705.