Caltrans and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) will hold a public scoping meeting on proposed on- and off-ramps at Norris Crow Canyon Road on Wednesday, March 13. The hotly contested ramps would connect to the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes along the center divider of Interstate 680.
The proposed ramps, which would cost an estimated $102 million, would allow carpoolers and buses to travel directly onto and off the I-680 HOV lanes at Norris Canyon Road. Part of the Measure J transportation expenditure plan, the CCTA hopes HOV lanes will promote and facilitate carpooling, vanpooling and transit use by improving freeway access.
"The scoping meeting is part of the initial activities conducted before a draft environmental impact report is prepared. We anticipate the draft will be released for public review/comment in spring 2014," wrote Lawrence McGuire, project manager with Circlepoint.
Although the Norris Canyon location has been discussed at length, McGuire said that the scoping session is on "planned high occupancy on- and off-ramps along the center divider of the Interstate 680 corridor in San Ramon. Norris Canyon Road has not been specifically identified as the preferred location at this time."
Informational meetings were held in November 2011 and March 2012 to provide information about the project and receive public input. The March 13 session will provide additional information about the HOV ramps, including the Executive Parkway alternative, and give residents an opportunity to provide input on the scope of the environmental analysis.
Many residents have been vocal in their opposition to the project, saying the ramps would increase traffic and congestion through surrounding neighborhoods.
"I think the issues are becoming gradually more obvious as time goes on. In the past, where it looked like it was a viable possibility ... and the city was rather strong in their support, I think that's out of date and inappropriate in this stage," resident Jim Blickenstaff told the City Council last year.
Although the Chamber of Commerce has supported the environmental review of the HOV ramp project, members of the City Council encouraged additional traffic and safety studies at a hearing in April.
"It's very, very important that the traffic study be comprehensive and look at Bollinger, Crow Canyon and everything in between," said Councilmember Scott Perkins. "There's probably a dozen intersections that will be impacted by this and if we don't include them all it leaves it wide open to speculation."
At the same meeting, Councilmember Jim Livingstone said he didn't believe the ramps would increase traffic but, instead, would spread it out.
"I don't see very many people getting off this ramp and into our neighborhood," he said, adding that he liked the idea of wider sidewalks on both sides of the street. "I'm most concerned about the safety of our residents. I think widening Norris ... will be a safety positive and not a negative. Obviously it's just going to serve Bishop Ranch and the surrounding community, but I don't see it being a safety issue for our kids."
The scoping session will be an open house format with project staff available to address questions. At the meeting, interested agencies and the public are invited to help identify the range of issues to be considered in the environmental document. Written comments will be accepted and can be sent to Cristin Hallissy, Caltrans District 4 Branch Chief P.O. Box 23660, MS-8B Oakland, CA 94623 through Tuesday, April 16.
Interested residents may attend the meeting from 7 p.m. 8:30 p.m. at the San Ramon Community Center (12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon).