Dear Coastal Commissioners and Peter,
I apologize for being so contentious with Caltrans at the Railing Subcommittee
meeting. I am sorry if this made your meeting fall short of covering the
agenda. I fear that I not good at working smoothly within the bureaucratic
world. I found it very frustrating to provide technically valid answers to each
one of Caltrans objections to choosing the Wyoming railing, only to have them
add another invalid reason for rejection. I tried to make clear that their
"engineering judgment" was flying in the face of standards accepted by all
national bodies concerned with setting railing safety standards.
What I hope you all understand is that the choice of scenic railing no longer
depends on any technical information. There are no further unresolved
technical, safety issues. Caltrans agrees that the Wyoming Railing passed the
Report 350 crash tests, has been accepted by the FHWA, and conforms to AASHTO
LFRD design standards. The Wyoming TL-4 is an extremely safe railing, far more
so than the CA Type 80 SW (TL-2) now slated for the Noyo Bridge.
Caltrans objections to the approving the Wyoming Rail have now been shown to be
political in nature. Caltrans now has every possible technical justification
needed to approve the Wyoming Rail for use in California. It apparently lacks
the desire to do so, for what internal or external political reason I don't know
and really can't even imagine. I have to wonder whether Mr. Morales is aware
that lower-down people are creating a completely unjustifiable conflict with the
Coastal Commission and the Coastal Act. I would think that at the highest
level, Caltrans would be delighted to be able to find a way to meet current
safety requirements and satisfy completely the Coastal Commission's desire for a
visually transparent railing.
I am hoping that one or more of you knows how to move the issue to the
appropriate bureaucratic or political level -- quite obviously someone above Mr.
Allison, acting head of the Engineering Service Center. I will be happy to help
you present the technical case for the Wyoming Rail, which can be supportive of
the political effort, but I think you need to move the issue into a more
responsive forum than the Engineering Service Center.
It would be a great shame if the Commission allowed the Coastal Act to be
overridden in this instance. To allow the engineers in Caltrans to simply
assert "engineering judgment" as a reason for rejecting the best
scenic-preservation solution would be a sad outcome. Hopefully, there are
people at some level in Caltrans who support trying to balance environmental and
safety considerations -- and would see that in this case that there is an
environmentally superior solution that meets all nationally accepted safety
I thank all of you for your time and consideration.