See-Through Railing No Solution for Noyo Monster Bridge

By Vince Taylor

[Published in the Fort Bragg Advocate/Mendocino Beacon, October 15, 1998]

Thank you, Karen Tatman, Caltrans Project Manager, for holding the recent public workshop on the proposed Noyo Bridge.  You found out that sixty people cared enough about preserving our precious coast to come and complain about your monstrous bridge design.  You told me in a phone conversation on October 8, that you were going to respond to these complaints, that you were changing the bridge design to incorporate a see-through railing.  You said that this would satisfy all of the complaints received and that you were now ready to go forward with the bridge without further citizen input. 

Karen, you are completely missing the point.  We complained because we want a bridge design that will do as much as possible to preserve or even enhance the experience of driving above the Noyo River and Harbor.  You propose constructing a monster bridge over Noyo Harbor, a bridge completely out of scale with every other bridge on Highway 1 north of San Francisco. You have completely misled the public by calling it a “four-lane” bridge.  In reality, if you get your way, you are going to build a seven lane bridge – five 12 foot traffic lanes, including a 12 foot median lane, plus two 13 foot emergency-bicycle-pedestrian lanes.  This is almost THREE TIMES as big as the present bridge. This bridge is so huge, I couldn’t even imagine it, until you told me that it will be as wide as the entire highway at Redwood and Main Street, including the parking lanes, plus five feet of the sidewalks on both sides! This is a bridge for the Bay area, not the Mendocino North Coast.

If you are really wanting to listen to the people, you will scrap your monster bridge and start again.  There is no way that you can preserve our values with this monster.  As Joe Ribeiro pointed out in a recent letter published in the Fort Bragg Advocate News (October 8, 1998), “even if the barrier along the bridge walkway was designed so you could see through it, the only way you would be able to see the ocean or Noyo Harbor while driving across the bridge is if you drove on the eight foot shoulder.” 

When you presented the first Public Workshop on the bridge in November,  [1997] you got only one complaint about the bridge.  This last time, you got sixty complaints.  Why?  Because your presentations the first time didn’t make it clear to people how much their views were going to suffer.  When people were alerted, they let you know in large numbers.  You tell me you haven’t gotten any complaints about the scale of the bridge?  Why? Because your presentations haven’t successfully communicated the size of the bridge, its visual and noise impact on the surrounding areas, its effect on pedestrian access to the bridge (where will sightseers park?), and its destruction of coastal views. 

To do the job right, you need to construct a three dimensional model that shows the bridge and the buildings and roadsides on both sides of the bridge.  You need to create numerous simulated east and west views while driving in both directions.  You need to bring these back to Fort Bragg and hold another public workshop.  Then, you will know how people really feel about your bridge design when they can truly visualize it.

Coastal residents, if you agree with what I’ve written above, you need to take action immediately!  Please write or call to Karen Tatman, Caltrans Project Manager, PO Box 911, Marysville, CA 95901, tel: (530) 741-5331, fax (530) 741-4390, with copies to Sen. Mike Thompson, State Capitol, Room 3056, Sacramento, CA 95814, tel: (707) 962-0933, fax: (707) 962-0934, and to Representative Virginia Strom-Martin, PO Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0001, tel: (707) 463-5770, fax: (707) 463-5773.  Thanks for your help!