Fourth Bore Challenge Gets Day in Court

Monday, November 3, 2008

In November, 2007, six neighborhood and environmental groups – including the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC) and FROG – known collectively as the Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC), filed suit against Caltrans based on its failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit argued that Caltrans failed to adequately address serious noise, health, and traffic issues that would result from the proposed Fourth Bore project during and after its construction.

The project would add a fourth tunnel (bore) to the Caldecott Tunnel over the course of a year’s construction. The lawsuit’s filing sparked extended negotiations between Caltrans and FBC, and separate negotiations between the City of Oakland and Caltrans. The negotiations, made at the behest of FBC to Councilmember Jane Brunner and other Oakland councilmembers, resulted in a settlement of Oakland’s threatened lawsuit against Caltrans.

The settlement Caltrans and Oakland reached contains a promise to fund $8 million in mitigations of noise and traffic impacts of the project, most of which were also requested by FBC from Caltrans.

However, given the immense size of the project, FBC believes that the Oakland/ Caltrans settlement is woefully inadequate to address additional substantial negative and lasting impacts the project will have on Rockridge and nearby neighborhoods.

Those impacts include increased noise during construction and after it is completed, increased and continuing pollution at schools and parks located alongside Highway 24, and increased traffic on city streets in the area. Caltrans has been unwilling to address these remaining serious impacts, so FBC continued with its lawsuit.

The suit came to trial on October 31 before Judge Roesch, with Tony Rossman and Stuart Flashman representing the FBC, including RCPC and FROG. In the packed courtroom were several spectators in support of the FBC, and several Caltrans representatives.

After hearing 3-1/2 hours of spirited argument, Judge Roesch noted that the case involved several issues, and continued the trial to Wednesday, November 5, at 9am, before the same court.

Coalition members hope that members of the community will support this difficult but important effort by volunteering their time through one of the Coalition’s member organizations or through tax-deductible contributions (make payable to: Sierra Club Foundation/FBC). Send checks to: Fourth Bore Coalition, 2980 Domingo Ave., #139, Berkeley, CA 94705