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  Caltrans Meeting on Western Drive On-ramp Closure and Bay Trail Connection
February 10, 2012

We met yesterday at Caltrans with Bijan Sartipi and other interested parties. See Agenda below for participants.

A meeting with Caltrans is kind of like being beaten with a pool cue and then being asked to thank your attacker for not hitting you harder. Caltrans is arrogant and patronizing beyond belief.

Caltrans Meeting Agenda.jpg

Caltrans went through a PowerPoint presentation about the project and made the following proposals to address the Western Drive Ramp Closure:

  1. The contract will provide financial incentives for the contractor to open the Western Drive ramp in three months or less.
  2. During the closure period, vehicles up to ¾ ton pickups will be able to use the bike path as an east bound on-ramp between the hours of 5:30 AM and 9:30 PM. A flagger and pilot car will facilitate safety. Waits are anticipated not to exceed a minute or two. The overhead clearance is only slightly more than 11 feet.
  3. Larger vehicles all the time and ¾ ton trucks or smaller between 9:30 PM and 5:30 AM will have to use the cross-bridge detour. Based on Caltrans estimates, there will be about 100,000 vehicle miles of detour during the closing.
  4. Toll passes will be provided for the detour.
  5. A shuttle will be provided to carry bicyclists through the construction zone.
  6. An amendment to the BCDC permit and a temporary easement from Chevron will be required.


Caltrans Two

At the conclusion of the Western Drive portion of the meeting, Caltrans asked for a consensus of approval for the plan. It seemed to me like it is probably reasonable under the circumstances, but Caltrans’ refusal to provide a PSR and PID for the Bay Trail flyover plan as part of the mitigation was sore point for Bruce Beyaert of TRAC, Lee Huo of ABAG Bay Trail and me.  Caltrans has consistently refused to engage on the Bay Trail issue, and continues to insist that someone else pay the approximate cost of the $200,000 PSR/PID if Caltrans does it.

We are going to look into using some of the grant money Richmond received from Chevron to pay for the PSR and PID just to keep the process moving.

While I appreciated Caltrans’ revised closure plan, I did not appreciate their attitude that it was a concession we should be thanking them for. They should have figured it out in the first place. Sartipi continually threatened to go back to the old plan if we did not fully support the new one. In the discussion of the magnitude of the detour (836,550 miles on the old plan and 100,000 miles or the new plan – over 90 days), he seemed totally unconcerned, just the public cost of Caltrans doing business.

Unrelated to the Western drive issue, we also discussed the possibility of an interim Bay Trail using the shoulder and a protective barrier. Caltrans refused to consider it. We brought up the risk of bicyclists continuing to use the unprotected shoulder and the past and potential future cost in lives, injuries and claims that arrangement involves. Without any specifics, Caltrans believes the loss of a shoulder to traffic  poses a greater risk. We pointed out that no-shoulder conditions abound, including the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge and highways all over California, but Caltrans is adamant. You might say they gave us the cold shoulder.

Sometime, CalTrans should read its own mission statement:
Caltrans Mission:
Caltrans Improves Mobility Across California
Strategic Goals:
    - SAFETY -
Provide the safest transportation system in the nation for users and workers.
    - MOBILITY -
Maximize transportation system performance and accessibility.
    - DELIVERY -
Efficiently deliver quality transportation projects and services.
Preserve and enhance California's resources and assets.
Promote quality service through an excellent workforce.