Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Highway 50 Workshop Recap

It's as if we showed up for a gunfight and instead were treated to reruns of "Bonanza"...

Thanks to those of you who took time out of your busy schedules to come to the Highway 50 workshop this evening. We had expected an opportunity to engage CalTrans staff, on the record, and get some clarification on some important questions on apparent gaps in the environmental review of their proposed Highway 50 expansion. I'm sure there were others, like me, who made a point of taking off from work early so we could be there at 5.00 PM sharp.

CalTrans, clearly, had other, less ambitious plans. The informal, science fair-style workshop offered no chance to ask the agency as an entity to clarify or explain the DEIR, and there was no opportunity to verbally enter comments onto the record. We were offered the opportunity to drop handwritten comments in the suggestion box, however!

CalTrans clearly missed a chance to take substantial public input on the DEIR. Consequently, our clarifying questions will need to be submitted along with our written comments, and CalTrans' only chance to respond will be in the Final EIR. That means that there is less chance that the public and CalTrans will be able to come to terms on the proper content of the environmental impact report, and there is a greater chance that the final document will be deficient. Nevertheless, we clearly showed that the community cares about the potential impact of this project.  And we learned more about how democracy works in the world of California transportation planning, where the region's decision makers are one level removed from the will of the voters.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to turn out!

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