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January 21, 2009 > East-West Connector environmental report reviewed

East-West Connector environmental report reviewed

By Simon Wong

Following public open house meetings in November 2008, the Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTA), Caltrans and the Cities of Union City and Fremont released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the East-West Connector Project on December 11, 2008.

Two public hearings on the DEIR, which details impacts that might arise from implementation of the Project, were held in Union City and Fremont on January 14 and 15, respectively.

The meeting at the Kennedy Community Center, Union City, was attended by Mayor Mark Green, Councillor Jim Navarro, City Manager Larry Cheeves, Public Works Director, Mintze Cheng and Economic & Community Development Director, Joan Malloy. Several of the City's Planning Commissioners were also present.

The delegation of local representatives was on hand to speak with the public, provide a local perspective and support members of the Project team.

Stefan Garcia, East-West Connector Project Manager, presented a brief overview of the Project and the public then had the opportunity to take the floor and comment verbally or provide written comment away from the microphone. Although nobody chose to speak openly, the court reporter recorded comments from several people. About ten community members attended the public hearing in Union City.

The DEIR contains the findings for many environmental issues that were evaluated. The latter include aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, hazards, hydrology and water quality, land use and planning, noise and vibration, population and housing, public services, utilities and recreation and transportation and traffic were examined.

"The release of the DEIR is an important milestone in the progress of the East-West Connector Project under the [2006] Memorandum of Understanding between ACTA, Fremont, Union City and Caltrans," said Art Dao, ACTA Deputy Director. "By improving the travel time of motorists and transit riders in the vicinity of the project, we anticipate substantial cumulative benefits over time."

"This is one of the few remaining ACTA projects from 1986 Measure B. Union City is anxious to see this Project come to fruition, as is Fremont. Many of you will have seen the various outlines and outlays of the street and roadway configurations. There is consensus on Union City Council regarding the configuration of the Osprey Intersection. Apparently, Fremont Staff also agrees with the City Council on this. Perhaps this is a sign of a new era, a new relationship between Fremont and Union City. We're happy that we are making advances. We'll receive comments from Union City residents and from any residents of any other cities represented this evening," said Mayor Mark Green.

"Art Dao and his staff at ACTA have been stalwarts in supporting this Project from the very beginning. Art has done a sensational job and would be a great asset to any City Staff but we'd like him to remain with ACTA/ACTIA and Alameda County.

"Union City Staff has been supportive of this Project and our Council has been united, despite various changes of members, since I have been Mayor. We have been united in pursuing funding for this Project. We have a Project that is widely accepted, though it wasn't the ideal thing when we voted in 1986, and is of huge benefit to the residents of Union City and Fremont. We need to keep moving forward," concluded the Mayor.

The comment period has been extended from 45 to 60 days. The deadline is 5 p.m. on February 9, 2009.

ACTA will respond to comments on the DEIR. Fremont and Union City will vote to endorse or not endorse the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) in accordance with the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding. It is expected that the ACTA Board will review and certify the FEIR in April 2009.

It is anticipated that the engineering phase will conclude in May 2009. The design phase will last from mid-2009 until the end of 2010 when construction begins. The latter is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Copies of the DEIR document are available for inspection at ACTA's office in Oakland, Fremont Main Library, Union City Library, City of Fremont Planning Department, City of Union City Planning Department and at www.acta2002.com

Comments may be submitted by mail to EWC Environmental Document, Stefan Garcia, EWC Project Manager, c/o Circle Point, 555 12th Street, Suite 20, Oakland, CA 94607, by email to Eastwestconnector@circlepoint.com or by fax to (510) 268 8499.

For more information, visit www.acta2002.com or contact Chris Colwick, East-West Connector Project Community Liaison at (415) 227 1100 ext 131.

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