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In The News

Officials unfazed by traffic redesign
Mayor says review of Saltworks proposal still in its early stages

BONNIE ESLINGER
Daily News 9/2/11

Redwood City Mayor Jeff Ira said Thursday he isn’t fazed by news that the developer of a proposed mini-city with 12,000 homes and several tall office complexes wants to provide only two roads to circulate traffic into and out of the new community instead of three.

A city report in January 2010 recommended that the so called Redwood City Saltworks plan be processed because, among other things, it addressed initial concerns about potential traffic impacts by proposing to build three road connections.

“If any one of these major connections is found to be infeasible, it is unlikely that the full project could be developed,” the report states, noting that the development could add 7,000 cars to roads and freeways around Redwood City during peak commute hours.

DMB Associates, the Arizona-based developer that wants to build Saltworks on 1,400 acres of Cargill salt flats, revised its plan several months after the city allowed it to proceed. Although the Bayfront Expressway/ Marsh Road and Blomquist Street/Seaport Boulevard connections will be used by cars, DMB wants to limit use of a new Highway 101 overpass connection to Broadway to pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit users.

The change was significant enough that when California Department of Transportation officials got wind of it this March, they sent a letter to the city asking that a thorough transportation-impact study be done on the project.

But Ira said it’s too early to worry about a project in the beginning phases of an environmental review expected to take two or so years.

“If it’s not feasible, they’ll (DMB) have to change the proposal” again, Ira said. He said DMB could either allow cars on the Highway 101 bridge or reduce the number of houses it proposes.

“Yes, I think there will be traffic problems,” Ira said. “Traffic is going to be an issue no matter what. The question is, can can it be mitigated?”

Vice Mayor Alicia Aguirre and Council Member Jeffrey Gee told The Daily News they also are taking a wait-and-see approach while the environmental studies continue.

“We just need to follow it through,” Gee said, adding that he expects more changes to be made to the project in the future.

“If the analysis said (traffic) would be worse, it’s going to have to be looked at very carefully to make sure it does work,” Gee said.

David Smith, DMB’s senior vice president, told The Daily News on Wednesday that the company is excluding cars from the proposed Highway 101 bridge as part of an effort to encourage people to walk, bicycle and use public transportation. To that end, the company is also revising the Saltworks plan to reduce the amount of parking available within the development, he said.

 

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