Corte Madera seems to be ready for a fight with one of California largest state agencies.
There was no shortage of opinions on the Greenbrae Interchange Project during a meeting last Tuesday — but most of the people who spoke agreed the plan was flawed, at best. The Corte Madera Town Council will meet Monday at 7 p.m. during a special session to review those comments before sending them to Caltrans.
The Transportation Authority of Marin is spearheading the project, which is designed to improve safety and traffic flow on Highway 101 between Corte Madera and Larkspur. The project has to get the green light from Caltrans, however.
Council members are hoping Caltrans will listen to the concerns over the project and reopen the plans for discussion. Council member Carla Condon, for one, is tired of being ignored. She pulled no punches with representatives from the Transportation Authority of Marin on Tuesday.
"I feel this has not been a collegial experience with the TAM staff. I'm gratified with all of (the people) who turned out. I feel like … we're finally being heard," Condon said during Tuesday's meeting.
Opponents to the current plans raised several issues, including:
- Pedestrian and cyclist safety
- The need for a full Environmental Impact Review
- The impact on residents
- The impact on local businesses
Jana Haehl wrote in an e-mail: "During the past five years, TAM has spent almost $9 million dollars on their 'Iterative Design Process', rather than engaging the public in scoping for an EIR, evaluating viable options, identifying adverse impacts, and comparing several alternatives in a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). The only choices offered by TAM in its Environmental Assessment/Negative Declaration (EA/NegDec) are Build or No Build. TAM's claim that their Build alternative will have no unmitigatable adverse impacts, even though it includes elimination of the existing bicycle-pedestrian overpass, is absolutely mind-boggling.
"TAM has ignored several simple alternatives for solving the weaving problems by addition of an auxiliary lane both northbound and southbound, with separation similar to what's recently been achieved with those white stanchions placed on the northbound off-ramp leading to Sir Francis Drake. They claim these alternatives weren't worth considering because they don’t conform to Caltrans standards. However, there are many, many exceptions made to Caltrans standards, up and down the state.
"If Caltrans and TAM can be persuaded to respect public opposition and drop their controversial Build option, then serious evaluation of other alternatives can occur. TAM's and Caltrans' attention should be directed to fixing the increased congestion problems on Sir Francis Drake, caused by increased usage for access to Hwy 580 and the Richmond Bridge, which results in long backups on Hwy 101 during evening commute hours."
Mayor Diane Furst said Tuesday, "This is a freeway project through and through. This is not an adequate project to maintain Corte Madera's small-town character."
Furst raised an alarm during Tuesday's meeting when she challenged TAM's data. She charges that "TAM is using collision data OUTSIDE the project area to justify that safety concerns INSIDE the project area need to be addressed. In expanding the area they analyzed ... they were able to pick up two fatalities that they have been touting in each public meeting and with the press as reason we must go ahead and build this freeway project. ... Another thing to remember is that changing the parameters to be analyzed was a deliberate act, and not accidental. And yet not once did they disclose the changes in the parameters to the TAM Board or the public. This is intentional manipulation of the data, in an attempt to sway board and public opinion toward a belief the collision danger is higher in the project area than is actually is. Let me know if you want the backup detail on this. The file is fairly large."
CalTrans is accepting comments from the public on the Greenbrae Interchange project through Feb. 14.
Part of Monday's agenda is a proposed resolution for the Corte Madera Town Council to vote its opposition to the closure of Nellen Drive, which runs right next to the southbound portion of the Greenbrae Corridor.