Status Report on the Devil's Slide Tunnel Study and the Martini Creek Bypass Plans, Specifications, and Estimates

Submitted to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
by the Citizens' Advisory Committee for Devil's Slide
September 26, 1996

Role of the Citizens' Advisory Committee

The mission of the CAC is to represent all citizens of San Mateo County in a quest for an accurate, objective study of the tunnel alternative as a permanent repair for Devil's Slide. By definition, this must also include consideration of updated Plans, Specifications and Estimates (PS&E) for the bypass, so that the citizens of San Mateo County can make an accurate comparison between the two projects. The following report identifies areas of concern to the CAC and requests actions to be taken by the Board of Supervisors to support an objective, thorough analysis of both projects.

Summary of Concerns

1. Caltrans canceled their attendance at the Public Meeting hosted by the CAC on July 30, has not committed to attending future public meetings specified in their contract, and has not responded to questions submitted by the CAC on behalf of the public.

2. Caltrans has not formally committed to have an independent consultant update the PS&E for the bypass.

3. A firm deadline for public presentation of the plans and estimates for the tunnel and the bypass is unestablished.

4. The location and management of bicycle lanes for Devil's Slide remains unresolved.

5. Concerns remain over the unbiased selection of the appropriate tunnel for Devil's Slide.

Historical Summary

Role of the Citizens' Advisory Committee

The Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed in response to a need for community input and education on the Devil's Slide tunnel study contracted between Caltrans and Woodward Clyde Consultants this spring. Members of the CAC unanimously agree that the primary function of this committee is to represent all citizens of San Mateo County in obtaining an accurate, unbiased study of a tunnel as a permanent repair alternative for Devil's Slide. It became clear to the CAC in the early phases of the study that citizens of San Mateo County would be unequipped to make an informed decision between the tunnel and the bypass without accurate, complete, and objective information on both projects. Ralph Trapani, engineering consultant to San Mateo County, agreed and has stressed publicly and in writing the importance of publishing current information on both project alternatives prior to the November 5 election.

Public Meetings and Caltrans' Response to Questions

On July 27, the CAC faxed a written list of questions to Caltrans regarding the tunnel study and the bypass which had been submitted by numerous concerned citizens. Although Caltrans had been scheduled to attend the July 30 public meeting along with tunnel study consultants, they canceled their attendance on July 29, citing pending litigation on the bypass and a concern about biasing the public on either project prior to the election. Caltrans also prevented members of the independent consulting team from attending. Since FHWA representatives also canceled their appearance, Mr. Ralph Trapani was the only representative from the tunnel study at this meeting. Since then, correspondence from the CAC, elected officials, and the public to Caltrans about Caltrans' and the tunnel consultants' future attendance of public meetings remain unanswered, as do the remaining questions to which Mr. Trapani was unable to respond at the public meeting. In a letter to Charles Lintell, a private citizen who wrote to President Clinton on this matter, Rodney Slater of FHWA stated that regardless of Caltrans' participation, representatives from FHWA would attend future public meetings (see enclosed letter). Without answers to the submitted questions, the CAC remains concerned that the tunnel study may not be proceeding in an unbiased manner, or that it will be perceived by the public as such.

Development of Updated Plans and Cost Estimates for the Bypass

The CAC is committed to obtaining updated information on the bypass on behalf of concerned citizens well in advance of the November 5 election. Mr. Trapani has expressed his concern about this issue in written correspondence with the county and during the public meeting which he attended. He thus broached this subject with Caltrans at the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting on July 31. Mr. Trapani reported in a letter to Tom Casey that James Roberts, Caltrans Director of Engineering Services, had agreed to contract with an independent consultant to have the updated PS&E for the bypass presented along with the final tunnel study reports at the October 8 TAC meeting. To date, although Caltrans has agreed to update information on the bypass, they have not confirmed an independent consultant's development of these plans and cost estimates, nor have they cited which mitigation costs and other potential losses to the local communities will be included (identified in writing by the CAC in two separate letters), or how these costs will be calculated.

Date for Publication of Plans and Costs for Both Projects

Although a letter from Caltrans on August 29 states that information on the two projects will be presented in mid-October, Caltrans remains uncommitted to a date. The CAC and Ralph Trapani have expressed serious concern over the lack of an established date by which the final reports on the two projects will be released to the public.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Routes

An important component of the tunnel study is unresolved - identification of the preferred bicycle/pedestrian route. In a letter to the county from Ralph Trapani on August 29, he states, "The use of the abandoned section of Route 1 as a bike/ped route has still not been accepted by Caltrans. Factors favoring that bike route include: the planned retaining wall project for that section, the anticipated benefits of the tunnel to assist in the control of formation drainage (and subsequent improvement in the stability of the Devil's Slide), possible contribution to the bike route maintenance by others, and the safety/operational issues associated with allowing bikes/peds in the tunnel."

The AASHTO tunnel standards clearly prohibit bike/ped lanes from the tunnel, and Mr. Trapani concurred with this on March 31 in his letter to the county, stating, "a bike lane in a tunnel is unsafe". All of the recommendations from the public submitted to the CAC regarding location of ped/bike lanes refer to the existing Highway 1 as the preferred option. Although there has been some discussion of bike/ped lanes over the old San Pedro Mountain Road, it is anticipated that the cost which Caltrans would attach to construction of this option and the fact that many mountain-bikers and hikers currently accessing Old San Pedro Mountain Road and the adjacent trails seem to prefer the existing natural, rugged terrain to a paved roadway, support the existing highway as the most accessible, scenic, and favorable alternative for location of bike/ped route if the tunnel is selected. In addition, the CCAG Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee has clearly stated their preference that the existing Highway 1 be converted to a bike/ped route if the tunnel is selected, and that Old San Pedro Mountain Road remain an offroad trail for hikers and mountain bikers.

Who Will Recommend the Minimum Appropriate Tunnel for the Site?

Another area which is of repeated concern to county citizens is, "Who will be responsible for identification of the minimum appropriate tunnel for the site?" Evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of the various tunnel alternatives requires identification of a baseline for comparison. Since the consultant was required to study only the tunnels identified by Caltrans in the contract, and since the contract does not allow for the consultant to independently identify the appropriate tunnel for the site, it is the opinion of the CAC that the Technical Advisory Committee consisting of Ralph Trapani, Tony Caserta of FHWA, and James Roberts of Caltrans recommend the appropriate minimum or baseline tunnel for Devil's Slide, considering geotechnical viability, construction costs, mitigation and permitting, as well as operation and maintenance of a tunnel which meets AASHTO and state minimum standards for primary two-lane highway tunnels. The consensus of the CAC based on consultation with technical experts and the public is that once the least expensive appropriate tunnel for Devil's Slide has been identified, voters, transportation officials, and elected officials will be in a better position to compare the tunnel with the bypass.

Summary of Recommendations and Action Requested of the Board

The CAC requests that the Board or the Board's designees (Devil's Slide Sub-Committee members) draft a letter to James Roberts, Director of Engineering for Caltrans and member of the Technical Advisory Committee, requesting the following action items:

1. a. Request that Mr. Roberts personally attend or designate an impartial representative from his office to attend the October 7 public meeting in Pacifica as the Caltrans representative to respond to questions about both the tunnel study and the bypass, along with representatives from the tunnel study consulting team (WCC & Parsons-Brinckerhoff). As Mr. Roberts is clearly the most qualified engineer from Caltrans to respond to questions about the study and is also a member of the TAC, and because it is anticipated that his TAC counterparts Ralph Trapani and Tony Caserta will be present at the meeting, and because Mr. Roberts is managing the development of updated plans and cost estimates for the bypass, and because Mr. Roberts is perceived by the local communities to be impartial relative to a solution for Devil's Slide, the CAC supports Mr. Roberts' or his designee's representation of Caltrans at all public meetings.

b. Request that Caltrans respond in writing or orally at the October 7 public meeting to the public's questions submitted to them in writing by the CAC on July 27.

2. a. Request a copy of the contract between the Caltrans and the independent consultant responsible for updating the plans and cost estimates for the Martini Creek bypass.

b. Request that Ralph Trapani review the most current design plans, specifications, and estimates available through Caltrans for the Martini Creek bypass, in addition to current USGS and environmental reports and maps, as well as the two letters from the CAC to Caltrans requesting cost information on items relevant to the updated PS&E for the bypass, and provide a written summary to the county of concerns and potential costs or impacts of the bypass based on his review by October 15.

3. Request a confirmation of public disclosure of the complete final reports from both the tunnel study and the updated plans and cost estimates for the bypass no later than October 15, 1996.

4. Recommend the abandoned section of Highway 1 be pursued as the preferred bike/ped route if the tunnel is selected. The CAC also requests that the Board support joint research and planning between the CCAG Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and the CAC to investigate the potential costs/benefits of this alternative and research the possibility of organizations such as Golden Gate National Recreation Area maintaining the bike/ped route.

5. Submit a formal request to Caltrans and FHWA that the Technical Advisory Committee members Ralph Trapani, Tony Caserta, and James Roberts identify the minimum appropriate tunnel for Devil's Slide which meets all federal and state guidelines.

The Citizens' Advisory Committee's next meeting
is next Monday, October 7 in Pacifica

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