Caldecott Project Lawsuit Now in Judge’s Hands for January Decision

Sunday, December 7, 2008

After two three-and-a-half hour sessions of oral argument, the Fourth Bore Coalition’s lawsuit challenging Caltrans’ Caldecott Improvement Project has been submitted to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch for a decision. With almost 90 pages of briefing and more than 32,000 pages of administrative documents to read through, that decision could be a while in coming.

The Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) includes the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC) as well as the FROG Park Committee, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and several other Oakland/Berkeley community groups. FBC sued Caltrans over its decision, made over a year ago, to add a fourth bore, or tunnel, to the Caldecott
Tunnel connecting Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The suit is not about whether a fourth bore should be built. Rather, the Coalition asked reconsideration of how it would be built, how it should be operated, and what mitigation measures should have been included with the project. In the two hearings, the Coalition was represented by local attorneys Stuart Flashman and Antonio Rossmann. The hearings covered a wide range of issues from noise, lighting, traffic, bicycling and pedestrian safety impacts to whether Caltrans should have looked at having carpool/bus lanes as part of the project.

Judge Roesch listened attentively throughout and asked probing questions of both sides. The Judge seemed particularly skeptical of why Caltrans chose to limit the area it looked at for project impacts and to exclude consideration of impacts on Claremont Middle School and Chabot Elementary School - both located very close to Highway 24 and the traffic coming and going through the tunnel.

Under state law, the judge must issue his decision within 60 days. The case was submitted for decision on November 5.