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In The News

Saltworks Project Traffic Numbers Based on Outdated Report
Year-old numbers say vehicle traffic could increase by 7,000 during peak times.

By Stacie Chan,
Redwood City Patch, 2/24/11

The report prepared in Jan. 2010 by an independent consulting firm states that car trips in and out of the proposed Saltworks development area during peak times could increase by as many as 7,000. However, that number is subject to numerous fluctuations and alterations over the project proposal’s lifespan, according to Senior Planner Blake Lyon.

Wednesday night’s scoping meeting concerning traffic, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and noise was the last of the city’s five open-house style question and answer sessions. But city officials and consultants all had similar responses to many of residents’ questions: we have to wait and see.

“At these meetings, what we really want to convey is ‘the city is listening,” Lyon said. “We want your input so we can make a better final environmental impact report (EIR).” 

Until developer DMB Associates, Inc., submits its application, city employees and consultants could not speculate on definite numbers.

But the year-old Tier 1 report prepared by Hexagon Transportation Consultants using the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) rates did incorporate several public transportation factors including:

  • a circulator transit system providing connections between Caltrain, the downtown, and the future ferry terminal (which is part of the city’s General Plan)
  • a parking management program that would potentially reduce car ownership internalization due to non-work trips

But it also added that “It should be noted that these trip generation estimates do not fully account for the anticipated reductions due to transit usage and the proposed travel demand management program.”

Ultimately, the report concluded that there would be 66,500 vehicle trips generated from the trip.

Consultants hired by the city, at costs reimbursed by DMB, were not even allowed to surmise about the project. They were on hand to answer questions about existing conditions in the Bay Area. Air Quality experts from consulting firm Sierra Research will eventually analyze the potential pollutants that could result from the proposed Saltworks project.

But for now, all Principal Scientist Eric Walther could divulge was the current levels of pollutants such as ozone and carbon monoxide around the Bay Area and in Redwood City. Consultants will ultimately determine the pollutants generated from the various alternatives presented in the environmental impact report, according to Walther.

“But no matter what, there will be pollutants emitted from this development,” he said. “We just have to determine which ones and how much and how they can be mitigated.”

Chris Mitchell, Senior Associate at the head transportation consulting firm Fehr & Peers, said that the traffic numbers needed to be refined.

Environmental consultant Ron Milam said traffic analysis has been traditionally done through a one-dimensional “congestion lens.” He said their updated analysis would be much more robust and consider numerous factors, including the myriad forms of public transportation now available, from bicycles to Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV).

Regardless of what DMB submits, it will result in an amendment to the city’s General Plan, a complex blueprint that outlines the city’s future development plans for many years to come, according to Lyon.

The public comment period ends Mar. 31, then the city will prepare a second Notice of Preparation that combines all comments from this scoping period. The public will then have the opportunity to offer more comments. The applicant will then have a conclusive project description. The next step will be the draft environmental impact report, a document mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act that requires all development projects to undergo extensive environmental review with numerous alternatives.

“This project has had a pretty extensive public disclosure process,” Walther said. “I’ve seen even bigger projects with fewer scoping meetings. The applicant is going beyond what’s normal.”

 

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