Caltrans reply to first letter from Coman Feher to Director Medina

The district director from the San Francisco Bay Area, to whom the original letter was not addressed, has answered in place of the department’s director. Though he says he has "been requested to respond" to the Coman Feher letter, he does not say by whom or why. The bottom of this page indicates that no copy was sent to the director for review or approval, or to anyone else at Caltrans. Instead, a copy was sent to Steve Heminger, Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland. 

BOX 23660
OAKLAND, CA 94623-0660
(510) 286-6444
TDD (510) 286-4454

March 17, 1999

Mr. Rick Feher
Mr. Daniel Coman
Coman Feher Associates

Dear Messrs. Feher & Coman:

I have been requested to respond to your letter dated February 19, 1999, to Director Jose Medina in which you expressed your concerns regarding the new east span of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB). In addition, your letter addressed a number of issues that you feel warrant the need to halt and redirect the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge East Span replacement project.

It has been the Department of Transportation's (Caltrans) objective from the beginning of the project's development to ensure the public's involvement in the design process of the new span. As a result, Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) have held numerous public hearings and meetings throughout the two-year design process beginning in early 1997. These meetings have provided the public and all concerned parties an open forum to express their ideas for consideration by MTC and Caltrans. The process leading to the design and alignment recommended by MTC to Caltrans has been a fair, open and public process.

Your letter also expressed your views about the aesthetics of the proposed design. The design selection of the new east span of the Bay Bridge was made upon the recommendation of a highly esteemed panel of engineers and architects, known as the Engineering and Design Advisory Panel (EDAP). EDAP was assembled by MTC to conduct expert technical analysis of the design options and alignments. As such, any proposal recommended by the panel must meet their own high engineering and aesthetics standards. After two years of consideration and review, EDAP approved and recommended to MTC the present proposal.

In addition, you stated that the design contains the same flaw that caused a portion of the existing east span to collapse during the Loma Prieta earthquake. Caltrans and EDAP experts, however, disagree with your assessment.

In response to your comment regarding the approval by [sic] the four-city rail initiative in November 1998, Senate Bill 60 explicitly prohibits local and state permitting authorities from imposing any requirements that a mass transit facility be constructed on the bridge as a condition for issuing any permit, granting any easement, or granting any other form of approval needed, for the construction of the SFOBB. Also the Regional Transportation Plan, developed by MTC, envisions rail service across the Bay being provided by BART. We suggest you contact MTC for further information for mass transit planning in the Bay Area.

It is imperative to the State of California that the bridge design proceeds on an accelerated schedule while ultimately providing a cost-effective, seismically safe and aesthetically pleasing structure. We have met these criteria with the current design selection. Thank you again for your interest in this important seismic safety project.


District Director

c: Steve Heminger, MTC

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