The letter below to the Caltrans project manager for the Noyo Bridge  was my first communication with Caltrans. I started in a constructive frame, believing that Caltrans might be responsive to my suggestions. Even at this early point, knowing nothing about bridge and railing design, common sense told me that placing the traffic barrier on the traffic side of the sidewalk would help to preserve to preserve views.

I don't have a written response in my files, but future actions show that Caltrans was primarily interested in defending rather than improving its current design.

Vince Taylor
45310 Pacifica Drive, PO Box 37
, Caspar, CA 95420




August 27, 1998

Karen Tatman
California Department of Transportation
PO Box 911
Marysville, CA 95901
Fax: 530 741-4390

Dear Ms. Tatman:

I strongly object to the plans being made for the new Noyo Bridge in Fort Bragg.  I have read a letter that you wrote to my wife attempting to justify the design that is being proposed.  You are missing the point: we who live here do not want a bridge that is going to take away yet more of our vanishing views of our wonderful coast and harbor. 

As a public agency, Caltrans needs to serve all the needs of the public, not just the needs for vehicle transportation and increased safety.  Man does not live by automobile alone, nor is safety more important than beauty.  What your agency needs to do is find a way to build a bridge that meets the desires of those who live here.  You are the technicians, not us; so use your skills to find a means to satisfy our desires for retaining the precious views or don’t build the new bridge.  Better to wait until technology or legislation can provide us with the type of bridge we want than to create a monstrosity that will dominate the entrance to Fort Bragg for fifty to 100 years.

As I have said, I am not a technician, but let me suggest a change in your bridge plans that might alleviate the view problem: place the safety required 32” railing on the inside of the eight foot shoulder, toward the center of the bridge from the shoulder.  The shoulder and sidewalk will then be protected from automobiles and provide much safer space for bicycles and pedestrians, respectively.   Because it is protected from the automobiles, the sidewalk would not need to be raised above the level of the roadway.  Place an iron railing similar to the one on the existing bridge on the outside of the sidewalk.  The result would meet the required safety requirements and preserve the feeling of an open view from the bridge. 

This is just one possible arrangement of spaces.  Perhaps the “shoulder” for bicycles could be made narrower, especially on the harbor side, since it is protected from the automobiles.  Or perhaps the bicycle lane could be combined with the sidewalk, with the combination somewhat wider than the sidewalk.  A shoulder for the automobiles is certainly not needed on the bridge of this size.  Certainly none exist on the other bridges in this area.

The point is to not let the engineering conventions and safety “standards” generate a monstrosity.  Use your imagination, skill, and research to create a bridge that will be a joy to behold.  If your engineers can’t create one, have them search around the rest of the country for outstanding designs.  I know they must exist.

Thank you for your attention.  Please let me know the date and time of the planned meeting in Fort Bragg.  Also, please send me a copy of the plans for the bridge.



Vince Taylor

 CC:     Representative Virginia Strom-Martin
             Senator Mike Thompson