Fourth Bore Coalition rejects Caltrans settlement offer and proceeds with lawsuit preparations

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Monday, August 4, 2008

The Fourth Bore Coalition is a coalition of local community groups in Oakland and Berkeley centered around Highway 24 and concerned about Caltrans’ Caldecott Improvement Project, a plan prepared in conjunction with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to add a fourth bore to that tunnel.  The Coalition includes the Rockridge Community Planning Council, North Hills Phoenix Association, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, the Parkwoods Community Association, and FROG Park. 

Last December, the Coalition sued Caltrans over its approval of the Fourth Bore Project.  Shortly thereafter, the Coalition, Caltrans, and CCTA began earnest discussions attempting to settle the litigation.  Since then, the Coalition has, with advice from a variety of technical experts, proposed a variety of mitigations designed to address the significant negative impacts on Oakland and Berkeley communities from both the construction and operation of the new bore.  Unfortunately, almost all those mitigations have been rejected by Caltrans and CCTA.

Meanwhile, the City of Oakland reached its own confidential settlement with CalTrans, providing a few mitigations for Oakland residents and businesses (the complete public settlement document is available online). In return, Oakland agreed not to carry through on its threat to join the Coalition in suing Caltrans over the project.

After over six months of negotiations, offers, and counteroffers, the Coalition, Caltrans, and CCTA remain unable to reach a settlement. Caltrans and CCTA presented their final settlement proposal to the Coalition on July 30th.  After consideration, the Coalition’s board of directors decided that the offer was completely inadequate to address the environmental damage and dangers to community health and safety that the project would create.  The board therefore voted unanimously to reject the offer.

The Coalition must now move forward with its litigation. Coalition volunteers are now reviewing the more than 33,000 pages of documents that form the administrative record for the project.  The Coalition’s attorneys have begun preparing legal arguments to present to the court. The case will be heard on October 24, 2008 in Alameda County Superior Court before Judge Frank Roesch. 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.