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Dharma Cloud Foundation PO Box 1066                                   Tel: 707 937-3001
Mendocino, CA 95460                       Fax: 707 937-3192

September 26, 2000

John Woolley, Supervisor
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
825 Fifth Street, Room 111
Eureka, CA  95501

 Dear John:

Thank you for helping to inform Senator Chesbro about the status of the Commissionís and my efforts to obtain a good scenic railing for use on California bridges.  Iíve prepared a package for Wes that includes several documents and letters.  I have also enclosed a copy of the package for you. I would have like to do more, but time ran out.

These should give him a good idea of the possibilities that exist for a better scenic railing, as well as the apparent resistance of Caltrans to accepting the Wyoming Rail as designed. This resistance is difficult to understand, given that the railing has passed current crash tests and is accepted for use by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The modifications that Caltrans has made to the Wyoming Railing have transformed an aesthetic, highly transparent rail into an ugly, opaque railing.  Getting a real dialogue with Caltrans over this issue is central to the goal of obtaining a truly scenic railing for California.

The immediate need is to get Caltrans to respond to the letter from Steve Scholl to John Allison of Caltrans dated August 14, 2000.  The first item asks them to explain how they reached the conclusion that the Wyoming Rail, as accepted by the FHWA, does not meet certain other (AASHTO) standards and needed to be modified.  My own calculation (which took about 15 minutes to make) shows that it does meet AASHTO Standards.   Iíve received the same assurance verbally from the Wyoming Highway Department. 

Hopefully, the combined efforts of the Coastal Commission and Senator Chesbro can cause Caltrans to cease its efforts to deny California the best available scenic railing.

I also want to take this opportunity to inform you of another aspect of the Noyo Bridge design: its excessive width. The views from the proposed bridge will be greatly degraded by its excessive width even if a good scenic railing is used. 

Because you were not a Commissioner at the time, you may not know that the proposed bridge is 87 feet wide, wider than the Golden Gate Bridge.  Its proposed 8-foot shoulders and five-foot sidewalks will put motorists so far from the edge of the bridge that they will have a very shallow downward angle of view.  Given the height of the bridge, motorists will be unable to see down into the scenic harbor and will have a limited view of the harbor entrance.

I intend to ask the Commission to request Caltrans to revisit: the width of the bridge. It is now appropriate for the Commission to raise the issue of bridge width with Caltrans because: 1) the width of proposed bridge was determined by a questionable construction-method assumption by Caltrans, and 2) Caltrans and the contractor are now engaged in a major re-examination of construction methods. 

Briefly, the questionable assumption was that a crane would need to placed on one of the newly constructed outer bridge sections during part of the construction period.  This assumption forced the other new bridge section to be wide enough to carry two-way traffic while the crane was being used. If it were not for this assumption, the new bridge sections would have needed to carry only one-way traffic, and the bridge could have been significantly narrower.  (A fuller description of this issue is contained in my testimony on the Noyo Bridge permit application. Iíve enclosed a copy for you.) 

Several crane-rental companies with which I talked stated firmly that there were alternatives to placing the crane on the bridge.  The contractor for the bridge could and should be requested by Caltrans to determine whether there is a feasible alternative to the crane on the bridge.  If it is feasible, then Caltrans could use the current delay to redesign the bridge to make it narrower. 

Thank you for helping to preserve the scenic resources of our wonderful state.  I appreciate the great amount of time and effort required to make informed decisions about the multitude of issues that confront you monthly. 

Sincerely,

 

 

Vince Taylor

Encl.: 

1.      Two packages of information on bridge railing design, for Wes Chesbro and John Woolley.

2.       Vince Taylor, Testimony on the Proposed Noyo River Bridge To the California Coastal Commission (Re: Permit Numbers A-1-FTB-99-06 and 1-98-100)