On March 7, Supervisors Lempert and Barrales requested Caltrans' cooperation in three areas related to Devil's Slide. Quoting excerpts from their letter:
Mr. Joe Browne, District Director for Caltrans, replied on March 23:
- "Can you begin work on dewatering the slide area by drilling vertical wells, controlling surface drainage and developing horizontal drainage? Please inform us as soon as you have developed your short-term solution to reopending the roadway."
- "It would be helpful if you could provide all the data, studies, evaluations and reports discussing the geological, environmental and economic viability of a tunnel. ... [W]e would also appreciate your comments on the time frame for the construction for the tunnel alternative."
- "We request that you allow representatives from your agency to meet with the panel of independent experts to discuss the tunnel option and the bypass proposal. We are mindful of the ongoing litigation, and urge that this meeting be private and all comments made be without prejudice to the litigation. We will facilitate this meeting at your earliest convenience."
Unfortunately, our copy of the letter had an unreadable phrase, denoted by ??> below. We've done the best job of transcription that we can, but some errors may still remain.
Dear Supervisor Lempert:
Director James W. van Loben Sels has asked me to respond to your letter dated March 7, 1995 regarding Devil's Slide. The following are in response to the three specific requests in your letter:
- The remedies you suggest for dewatering the slide are being considered as part of the repair project. We will inform the Board when we have completed our analysis for the temporary repairs.
- As you stated in your letter, the tunnel alternative was considered and rejected in previous studies in 1973 and 1986. Any reconsideration of a tunnel alternative would require ??> of the environmental review process and FHWA approval. The southern end of the tunnel and the approach roadway are all within the property of Mc Nee Ranch State Park. Federal 4 (f) requirements prohibits (sic) taking of parkland if there is a feasible or prudent alternative. This is contrasted with the bypass alignment which was jointly planned with the park. The bypass alignment provides a prudent alternative. I am very concerned we will be getting into a long and protracted environmental process if the tunnel option is reopened. Additionally, no current source of funds for such an alternative exists.
While it may be likely for the tunnel issue to be raised again druing the application for the Coastal Development Permit, the fact is that the current project was found consistent with the local coastal plan and that finding was validated in a court challenge.
We believe time requirements for abandoning an approved court-tested and fully funded alternative is (sic) unacceptable. Therefore, I must respectfully decline your request to engage in a new dialogue in (sic) the tunnel alternative unless requested to do so by an official action of the full Board of Supervisors. [Emphasis added.]
- Caltrans cannot even consider your request for negotiations outside of the litigation process, unless that request is made by the full Board of Supervisors.