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Pope/Chaucer Bridge Replacement

From: domainremoved <"cb.tdsnyder_at_>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 15:48:43 -0800

To the JPA Board & Len Materman, the SCVWD Board, and Menlo Park City Council, In lieu of mailing the Comment Card to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, we write to give our comments following the Community Meeting of January 29, 2014 (a meeting to show what the JPA has developed, so far, in planning for replacement of the Pope/Chaucer Bridge). BACKGROUND We have lived on Woodland Avenue for almost 40 years; we’ve owned our home for almost 38 years.  We live about 120’ upstream from the Bridge.  Our viewshed includes the heritage California Bay Laurel, numerous oaks, and the enormous heritage Blue Gum Eucalyptus.  We chose to buy this property because of the viewshed of San Francisquito Creek.   We are active members of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Sequoia Audubon Society; we also work with Acterra on native-plant restoration at the Bridge and along Woodland, a successful, ongoing project.  We lead both the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the Summer Bird Count/Palo Alto CBC Circle in our neighborhood as well as eastward from El Camino Real in Menlo Park.  We count ourselves among those who respect, value, and work hard to protect the natural world. We have very fond memories of exploring the Creek with our children: studying tadpoles, marveling at the tiny fish we saw, and stretching arms to avoid Poison Oak (excellent bird habitat) to pluck ripe blackberries (unfortunately of the invasive persuasion).  And then there was the year the toad population exploded: our front yard was a hopping wonder, and we tried frantically to move all the tiny baby toads trying to cross Woodland from the Creek.  We were terribly saddened to lose all of the California Quail who populated the creek banks in the late 70s/early 80s (they disappeared when “creek-work” destroyed their habitat; guess the toads went too).  Cover for the California Thrasher, which we so enjoyed seeing along the Creek banks 20+ years ago,  was so diminished that we didn’t see this species again until last year (Spring 2013) when one song-burbling individual visited our yard. We know the Creek to be essential habitat for birds, both resident and migratory species.  Our personal list (“Yard-plus-Immediate-Walking-Neighborhood” Bird List) is currently at 72 species (not counting overhead high-flying gulls).  We walk both sides of the Creek.  The Creek is our neighborhood. Please understand that San Francisquito Creek does not split “neighborhoods” as far as birds (and other wildlife) are concerned. Our “wild” creek is a vital and irreplaceable part of the ecosystem of southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County.  It must be preserved. COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS We sympathize with all of the property owners who suffered flood damage in 1998.  Fear of a repeat flood event is understandable.  However, we are dismayed at the short-sighted nature of the JPA/SCVWD work to date. We ask the JPA to publish current analysis of creek flooding in their jurisdiction.  We would like to know if any viable scientific studies have been published recently that support the JPA proposals regarding bridge replacements and channel-widening along the Creek’s reach between 101 and El Camino Real. NEITHER OF THE ALTERNATIVES RE THE POPE/CHAUCER BRIDGE, PRESENTED BY SCVWD ON BEHALF OF SFCJPA, IS ACCEPTABLE TO US.  The aesthetic, environmental, and economic damages are far too severe.  Destruction of the Creekside viewshed is totally unacceptable. We ask that the JPA abandon the currently proposed alternatives. We ask that the JPA switch direction now to study two very pertinent areas:   1) Routes for underground culverts that divert floodwater upstream of the Pope/Chaucer Bridge.   2) Sites for detention ponds/facilities for floodwater storage upstream of the Pope/Chaucer Bridge. After these areas are studied, we ask that the JPA redirect any bridge replacement design as follows:    1) Any bridge replacement for Pope/Chaucer must be sensitively designed to accommodate a 35- to 40-year  event only (this would alleviate the conditions that contributed to the 1998 flood), with no floodwalls or headwalls, now or in the future.    2) Any replacement bridge design must exact only minimal impact on existing vegetation and no damage to heritage trees, to the aesthetic appearance of the bridge area, or to any wildlife habitat. This precludes armoring of the creek in either direction.     3) Any designer of a replacement bridge or associated creek bank stabilization must use the latest, most environmentally aware design parameters, such as described inEngineering with Nature,Alternative Techniques to Riprap Bank Stabilization, a FEMA publication, http://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/regions/regionx/Engineering_With_Nature_Web.pdf and the Bank Protection/Erosion Repair Design Guide, Chapter 4,  a publication of SCVWD, http://www.valleywater.org/uploadedFiles/Programs/BusinessInformationPermits/Permits/Chapter%204%20Bank%20Protection%20Erosion.pdf?n=9834.   We urge SCVWD and the JPA to retain the services of a bridge design firm that leads the field in environmentally sensitive engineering.      4) Finally, we are intrigued by the idea of removing the bridge and replacing it with a pedestrian/bicycle bridge.  We look forward to seeing the traffic study results.            Please accept these comments and recommendations as part of the public record. We look forward to fruitful discussions with both SCVWD and SFCJPA on the critical issues of flood protection, environmental protection, and community enhancement. Sincerely, Tate and Curtis Snyder Woodland Avenue, Menlo Park cc: San Mateo County Department of Public Works, East Palo Alto City Council, Palo Alto City Council
Received on Fri Feb 14 2014 - 15:48:19 PST

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