Associate Environmental Planner
Caltrans|District 4|Office of Environmental Analysis
As the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Department of Transportation, is pleased to announce that the Initial Study with Mitigated Negative Declaration for the U.S. Highway 101 Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossing in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California has been approved and is available on the City of Santa Rosa’s website.
The environmental document, maps and project information are available to download for review at the following link: https://srcity.org/750/Highway-101-Bicycle-Pedestrian-Bridge.
FRIENDS OF SMART RESPONSE:
Dear Ms. Nagle:
Friends of Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is pleased to offer comments in support of the U.S. Highway 101 Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossing in Santa Rosa. We have reviewed the Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration and find it accurate and complete. We urge you to grant environmental approval and construct the project.
Friends of SMART has advocated for a 101 overcrossing since SMART became a reality in 2008. The “Community Connector Bridge Advocacy Group” was formed in 2013 for the purpose of advocating for a bridge. Group membership included Friends of SMART, Sonoma County Transportation and Land Use Coalition, Neighborhood Alliance of Santa Rosa, Greenbelt Alliance, Sonoma County Conservation Action, Sonoma County Climate Protection Campaign, and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. We spent many hours negotiating with the President and Board of Santa Rosa Junior College, the City Planning Department, Design Review Board, City Council, and Codding Enterprises regarding the best location for the crossing. We participated in several Community Open Houses regarding the 2018 Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan. We concluded that the Edwards-Elliot alignment is far superior to other options.
Here is a synopsis of our analysis: Highway 101 bifurcates Santa Rosa and makes east-west bicycle and pedestrian travel difficult and unsafe. Steele Lane/Guerneville Road and College Avenue―the two streets in the study area where crossing can be made―are heavily trafficked and do not have bike lanes in many sections. These are high-risk routes for pedestrians and cyclists. Crossing under the 101 viaduct at either of those locations requires competing with traffic that is turning onto or off of the freeway.
The overcrossing will connect three major activity centers: Santa Rosa Junior College, the Coddingtown Mall and the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) station. It is easy to understand why this overcrossing is a key component of both Sonoma County’s and Santa Rosa’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plans.
The study looks at two different crossing locations. From our perspective as advocates for SMART and active transportation, the Elliott-Edwards location has many advantages. The West end is closer to the train station and shopping areas. That proximity guarantees that it would receive much more use. This alignment is also safer. The Bear Cub Way location requires navigating the very busy entrance to the main parking garage and crossing the SRJC campus. By adding at least a half mile to the route, the Bear Cub alignment is useless for pedestrians who would walk between the SRJC campus or either the SMART station or the Mall. If we are going to reduce congestion and greenhouse gases, we must provide every opportunity to facilitate access to public transit.
Regardless of which alignment is chosen, the “no build” option is unacceptable. This overcrossing is long overdue.
Thank you for your consideration.
Jack C. Swearengen, Chair