Letters from the Half Moon Bay Review, April 26

Coast is more than equipped

Dear editor:

The letter from Marisa Borba, "Silent Majority," prompts me to write. Almost every statement is inaccurate, and, if it reflects the views of the majority of bypass supporters, is very sad.

There is indeed a hospital on the Coastside to handle medical emergencies. Seton Medical Center Coastside, formerly St. Catherine, is a 123-bed licensed facility fully staffed and equipped 24 hours a day to handle any medical emergency. Our physicians all have years of experimedical emergency. Our physicians all have years of experience in emergency medicine, with advanced cardiac, trauma, and pediatric life support training. Equipment is state-of-the-art for a community hospital, e.g. external pacemaker, ventilator, thrombolytic therapy for acute heart attacks, etc. Those few patients who need a higher level of care are safely stabilized and transferred by the safest means possible, including critical care ambulance and helicopter. To say that lives are endangered because of lack of access to a hospital is inaccurate and inflammatory. [sorry, there was a typo in the original] local citizens and taxpayers not affiliated with any environmental group, I do not believe that you represent the "silent majority." Several members of your group are not exactly silent, and certainly in the areas most affected by the proposed bypass, i.e. Pacifica, Montara, and Moss Beach, you are definitely not the majority!

The current tunnel proposal is a valid, feasible and practical alternative that anyone with common sense, and the desire to look at all possible avenues to a consensus solution to the problem, can understand is a safer, cheaper, and quicker alternative. The Sierra Club proposed tunnel alternatives to Caltrans in 1973 and 1980. A single-bore tunnel, with 12-foot wide lanes, two 10-foot wide shoulders for emergency access, and a 1-foot center barrier is safe. Tunnel statistics worldwide prove that. The tunnel is $20-60 million cheaper than the bypass. The tunnel, with only a six to ninemonth limited environmental assessment needed, rather than a full ElS, and two to three years to build, is quicker. A tunnel is only noisy inside, and there is no fog.

The bypass is not funded; only $51.5 million is obligated, and no proof exists that any other funds are available. Current cost estimates are around $100 million. It would take time for revision of the stale ElS, two years of appeals, and three to four years to build nothing could be built now. Having travelled Highway 1 for 12 years, I know that it is below the fog line, and the sea mist that comes in blows up and over the road, creating a clear tunnel effect. Alcohol and unsafe driving are two of the most common reasons people end up on the ER. Add the thick fog that exists on the mountain, and the potential is real for multi-vehicle, multicasualty pileups on the bypass.

What CalTrans and politicians have done, by not considering all feasible alternatives a long time ago, is criminal. Let's all come together over this, and push for rapid consideration and approval ofthetunnel - acommonsense answer we can all live with.

Dr. Grant Weiss, Montara

HMB Review Managing editor's note: Dr. Grant Weiss is the medical director of the emergency room at Seton Medical Center Coastside in Moss Beach.

Aiding and abetting

Dear editor:

Concerning your April 5th editorial. I believe the ugly scar on the coast you refer to is the tragic deaths of the people who have died on Devil's Slide the past nine years. These people did not have to die because we had the funds available to build a safe bypass around Devil's Slide and we had the support of our elected representatives, in fact the vote was 5 to 0 by the San Mateo Board of Supervisors to build the road. The blame for these senseless deaths can be attributed to the Sierra Club, who for the past nine years has been playing a mating dance with our legal system and prevented the construction of the road. Unfortunately, the Review shares some of this blame with its blind endorsement of the MDA or any other harebrained scheme hatched up by opponents to the bypass.

I do appreciate your reference to facts and submit a couple of my own followed by opinions.

Fact: The editor of the Review lives in San Francisco.
Opinion: the editor is out of touch with day-to-day Coastside life and local community problems.

Fact: The bypass is funded and will permanently solve the problems of Devil's Slide.
Opinion: Build it now!

Fact: The proposed tunnel is a single-bore tunnel 46 feet wide.
Opinion: A single-bore tunnel almost one mile long with headon traffic is not safe and would not be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Many "experts" share this opinion including Doctor Bill Watenberg, a talk show host on KGO radio.

Fact: A two-bore tunnel would cost over $120 million.
Opinion: Why would the U.S. Department of Transportation approve funding of a two-bore tunnel to be used by 10-12,000 cars daily when an alternative (the bypass) would cost millions less?

Fact: The so-called tunnel alternative has no EPA reports, no engineering studies, no construction bids, and no funding.
Opinion: In a typical cruel hoax the Sierra Club is sweet-talking sincere people into believing a tunnel is a viable alternative. If they can flimflam (aided by the Review) enough citizens and browbeat enough legislators into switching to their tunnel scheme and forfeit the funds for the bypass then they will adminsister the coup de grace... the inevitable lawsuit against the tunnel!

Fact: Somebody tore down a "build the bypass" sign I had placed on 92.
Opinion: The folks who did it remind me of the boys in the pickup truck chasing Forrest Gump, and, remember, Forrest's mom always said "stupid is as stupid does."

Jay Combs, Coastside Committee for the Bypass

Please use your influence

Dear editor:

Letter sent to San Mateo County Board of Supervisors:

The Mid-Coast Community Council is the agency which represents the area that will be most affected by any construction project on Montara Mountain. We will be the people who have to live with the construction, traffic, stoppages, dirt, debris, and with the benefits of the construction workers who purchase food, gas, meals, etc.

The Mid-Coast Community Council has steadfastly offered support and concern about both the process used in the Bypass debate and has consistently taken the position to explore alternatives to the Bypass as a permanent solution. CalTrans has used "old thinking" in its disinclusive process of route selection: they decide what's right and move forward smartly to the conclusion, whether or not the locals agree. If the sound wall recommendations are any indication of their decisions, you can see how badly they do if they're not watched.

As problem solvers on many diverse issues, I'm sure the board understands the value of properly facilitated meetings - where the participants have the right people, the correct information and the desire to come to the best solution. To date this has not happened. As you can well foretell, the future could be fraught with legal difficulties if CalTrans doesn't provide all the information. They're the only ones with the resources to properly study the various alternatives.

Coastside residents and business owners who have endured this issue for over 20 years would welcome an alternative and the tunnel would seem to be it. Please use your influence to see that CalTrans quickly provides the information that they already have accumulated.

James Marsh, chair, Mid-Coast Council

Taking business elsewhere

Dear editor:

The mouth-breathers who lead the local Chamber of Commerce have always been amply ignorant in public to demonstrate where they stand on the issue of the Martini Creek Bypass.

But how does one who cares about their community and surroundings spot the individual businesses who support damage to our lives? To ease our uncertainty, they are conveniently displaying "Build the Bypass" signs in their windows.

To those stores and services, I say thank you. Now I know when to take my business elsewhere.

Carl May, Montara

Punishment vs. gross ineptitude

Dear editor:

The following excerpts are from a story that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on April 7: "Crews will work non-stop to replace the washed-out Carmel Bridge by Memorial Day, state Dept. of Transportation officials said. . . RGW Construction Inc. of Fremont, which submitted a $4.4 million bid will work 24 hours a day until the bridge is completed with a target date of 50 days. For every day the project is completed early, the contractor gets a $20,000 bonus. However, the contractor will pay $20,000 a day for each day the project is late. 'I've never seen government work so fast in my life,' Carmel Mayor Ken White said. 'People are shocked to see how fast this slug CalTrans can move. Somebody just pulled on somebody's chain.'"

Meanwhile, back on the San Mateo County coastline you report that much of the Devil's Slide repair work hasn't even gone out to bid yet! Drivers here had already been stuck in traffic for a month and a half when the Carmel Bridge washed out. One can understand the concerns CalTrans has for the safety of its workers on site, however, I hardly think an office staff working bids is at risk of slipping off a mountain. Are they waiting for some particular juxtaposition of the planets?

Bottom line is that it appears that contracting and preparatory work which could and should have been in place long ago simply have not been done. To quote CalTrans itself "these repairs are not a bypass vs. tunnel vs. MDA issue." Call it punishment by CalTrans or gross ineptitude, the result for businesses and commuters is tragically the same. It's high time Quentin Kopp gave his cronies' chain a strong pull.

Stephen J. Okonek, Half Moon Bay

Congratulations and bravo

Dear editor:

For your recent editorial in the Review of April 5 congratulations and bravo!

Congratulations . . . because you state so well the thinking that reasonable, open-minded people still possess despite the acceptances we have had to practice in the face of the Devil's Slide closure.

Bravo . . . because you have the courage to reveal your truth in the raging forum of multiple and sometimes polarized views.

As a teacher and a product of this culture which espouses the presentations of differing points of view, I applaud and encourage you in your actions, which give belief to continuing dialogue as a way to bring about resolution to problems. I am glad you are in the field of journalism. You exemplify the wise and gentle voice of leaders, past and present, who have lived the message of "both/and," compromise, and "staying in there."

Mary T. Breen, Montara

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