There is another way to solve the problem

To the Editor:

This is a copy of a letter sent to Kim Floyd, Caltrans Project Manager, Richardson Grove widening project.

It is my hope you hear my plea in dissuading Caltrans from pursuing the Richardson Grove widening project. How can private business, for their own profit, get the say in disturbing what is our treasured old growth redwood forest? They say it will save money with larger trucks, BUT I believe these supposed savings will not be passed on to the consumer. It’s just more profit in their pocket.

What happened to the legislation that protects our forests and lands? Why is the State Park sitting back saying very little? You can’t even pick up a fallen tree limb to burn in your campfire, it’s illegal. And yet they’re allowing Caltrans to come through this grove to re-route, widen, disturb and cut roots on sacred and precious thousand-year-old trees? This is a violation to the actual purpose of Richardson Grove State Park. It’s the park staff’s job to protect Richardson Grove for the people. Where is their voice? Why are they so silent?

I spent many hours wading through and trying to decipher the 181 pages of the DEIR, finding discrepancies and inaccuracies. What was said on one page was contradicted pages later. I came away confused and mistrustful of this document.

Caltrans must stop this insanity now! The state does NOT have five or six million dollars to spend on a project that is not necessary. You send a guy who sits for a few hours alongside the highway counting trucks when you should really send him to see what goes on from midnight to 5 a.m. on any given Monday. You’d see just how many trucks are getting through. And they are getting through without incident. It can work! Drop the speed limit for a year and see if this alternative will work before there is more waste of taxpayer money.

What you think is a problem can be resolved by dropping the speed limit to 25 mph for all trucks with trailers. They CAN get through the grove without incident! I, as someone who has lived and worked on this highway for over 20 years, have already seen a significant difference since you dropped the speed to 35 mph a couple months ago to all vehicles. Although it should have started north of Big Foot instead of south -- this is an area where trucks going too fast cause many accidents, the most recent a truck full of crab. If a 25 mph limit were imposed you would see it work. Try some alternatives before jumping into this very costly venture.

If speed was reduced there would be no need to cut back the banks Caltrans is proposing to do across the street from Singing Trees Recovery Center and a hundred feet or so from my back door. I will not sit back without protest as they build a retaining wall of toxic, poisoned wood that will seep down into my back yard. And if this project is allowed, it could very well shut down Singing Trees’ business as we are located adjacent to the Grove. There’s no way anyone who wants a quiet, peaceful place to begin putting their lives and families back together will want to be here. The 24/7 construction activity, backed up traffic, artificial night lighting and dump truck backup beeps could very well put us out of business. No one, and I repeat, no one will want to begin their recovery process in this type of atmosphere. A friend stated any truck that can make the turn from Broadway onto Fifth Street in Eureka can also drive through Richardson Grove without incident. It’s all about slowing down for these couple of miles. It’s really so simple.

Again I implore you to step up to the plate and shut this project down. Try alternatives of reduced speed, higher traffic fines and substantial tax write offs for those who load and unload. Don’t spend millions when there is another way.

Pattie Watson

Singing Trees