Posted on 14 November 2011.
Posted on 11 November 2011.
Planned highway project to bypass town along 395 corridor
Olancha and Cartago residents had a bone to pick with Caltrans at Tuesday’s Inyo County Board of Supervisors meeting in Independence.
Caltrans recently closed the public comment period for a new project to convert 12.6 miles of existing U.S. Highway 395 from a 2-lane to 4-lane highway. The 2-lane stretch of road currently passes through Olancha and Cartago in Inyo County.
Caltrans provided several alternative proposals to residents of both communities: Alternative 1 proposed expanding the existing stretch of road, and was most popular with residents, although according to a Caltrans study, only 25% of residents were in favor of any highway expansion. Other alternatives proposed using sections of the existing road and bypassing others west of Olancha or Cartago.
Scott Palomar, an Olancha-Cartago property owner, said that residents had favored Alternative 1 because it had “the fewest unknowns that could negatively impact the community and environment.” However, Caltrans chose to recommend Alternative 3, which proposed a “controlled access divided expressway passing west of Olancha and adjacent to the existing highway through Cartago.” But Caltrans District 9 Director Tom Hallenbeck rejected this alternative and constructed a new approach that combines Alternatives 3 and 4, Palomar said.
The new combined proposal will swing west of Olancha and pass directly through Cartago. The section of 395 bypassed at Olancha will become a frontage road connected via access points to the new alignment.
“It’s difficult to comprehend the logic of their decision,” Palomar said. “Why create a new 4-lane highway rather than widening the 2-lane highway?” Palomar and other residents expressed frustration that, after a $5 million feasibility study to come up with the alternatives, Caltrans had created an entirely new plan after closing the public hearing process. “Once again a government agency is doing what it wants whether the people like it or not,” Olancha resident Susan Patton said. Jeffrey Bowle added that the new project will cost $30 to $40 million more than Alternatives 1 or 3.
“Those of us in the community feel like Caltrans is literally running us over,” said one resident.
The Board was sympathetic to these concerns, but clarified it had no power to directly affect Caltrans’ decision. “My recommendation is that this Board write a letter to Caltrans encouraging a community meeting to hear the concerns voiced today,” said Chair Susan Cash.
Caltrans 4-Lane Project Manager Cedric Zemitis said in a phone interview after the meeting that Caltrans “may be looking for public input on access and circulation issues, meaning where access points will be.” He noted that residents had expressed concern about getting to and from their homes, and had also wondered how Crystal Geyser trucks would access the new alignment.
Zemitis maintained that the new plan is the best of all options, and avoids some of the drawbacks of Caltrans-recommended Alternative 3, which would have required residential relocation. However, Olancha residents and business owners are understandably concerned that the bypass will threaten the survival of their town.
Though Caltrans won’t hold any further hearings, Zemitis said, “We’re always willing to listen and respond to comments and concerns.” Currently the project is in the environmental phase, and expects to begin Design and Right-of-Way in 2013. Construction will begin in 2016-2017.
Posted on 25 July 2011.
Failing pavement on Hwy 203 placed three years ago needs to be replaced with a different formulation of hot mix asphalt that will be more durable. Granite Construction will begin work grinding and paving Hwy 203 on July 25. Look for construction area signs and utility covers lowered prior to the grinding and paving. Lane closures will be required, but should not restrict access to streets and businesses. The work will start at U.S. 395, including ramps, and continue up Hwy 203 to the Main Lodge.
Grinding and paving is planned to start on August 3 or 4 starting at U.S. 395. The work will be done in the following stages:
1. U.S. 395 to Sierra Park Rd.-4 days
2. Sierra Park Rd to Minaret Rd.-4 days
3. Minaret Rd to Mammoth Knolls Rd.-1 day
4. Mammoth Knolls Rd to MMSA Main Lodge – 6 days
To complete the project, there will be shoulder backing, raising utility covers and striping, which will require lane closures, but will be much less intrusive than the paving operation. All work is expected to be complete by mid to late September. Additional public information will follow including the notification of adjacent businesses prior to each stage of work. -TOML
Posted on 27 June 2011.
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) recently allocated $825 million in new funding to 92 highway, transit, and rail projects that will strengthen California’s economy and upgrade the state’s vast transportation system. The allocations included nearly $9 million from Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. To date, the state has allocated nearly $8 billion in Proposition 1B funds.
“From one end of the state to the other, transportation projects are providing jobs and improving mobility for people and businesses in California,” said Caltrans Acting Director Malcolm Dougherty.
Local highlights of the allocations include:
Inyo County - $50,000 from Proposition 1B to widen Sunland Drive from U.S. 395 to Hwy 168 to include bicycle lanes. Including bicycle lanes on Sunland Drive will provide a safer and less-congested alternative bicycle route along 3.8 miles of roadway.
Mono County - $250,000 for planning, programming and monitoring. This allocation is for: regional transportation planning; project planning; program development; and monitoring the implementation of State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) projects.
Mono County - $164,000 to replace two Class C F450, 21-foot, 15 passenger Eastern Sierra Transit Authority buses with wheelchair tie-downs.
Mono County - $108,000 to replace one Class E F550, 27-foot, 16 passenger Eastern Sierra Transit Authority bus with wheelchair tie-downs.
And in other Caltrans news, the traveling public in Inyo and Mono counties is advised that Caltrans is scheduled to start their summer series of highway maintenance projects on Inyo and Mono highways on Tuesday, June 28. Crews will be fog sealing the pavement to extend the life of the roadway.
The purpose of fog sealing is to rejuvenate the roadway by adding the naturally-occurring oils back into the roadway that have oxidized out of the pavement. This adds life to the pavement and allows it to perform better and be more flexible.
The schedule is as follows:
June 28 – Hwy 6 – Benton to the State Line
June 29 – Hwy 120 – Benton to Old Benton
July 12 – U.S. 395 – Sherwin – postmile 0 – 7
July 18-21 – U.S. 395 – Bishop to Big Pine
Aug. 2-3 – Hwy 168 – No Inyo Hospital to Red Hill Road
Please be advised that there may be 20 minutes delays. Flaggers will be directing traffic. Slow down and watch for highway workers. -Caltrans/LK