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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Be afraid, be very afraid (NOT)

Uploaded: Oct 10, 2013
OK now they've done it. Now I'm getting mad. Perhaps I have a too rosy view of the benefits of the HOV ramps proposed for the Norris Canyon overpass, but the latest anti-HOV literature is sooo false and negative that I need to answer it right away.

I'm not saying my views or predictions for the HOV ramps are correct, but I am saying that the political mailer I received on September 9th is completely incorrect. So I'd like to go down each claim one by one. I'm attaching a scanned copy of the of the mailer to this blog, but I shall repeat the contents of each section in case the image isn't readable.

The headline on the card says, "Think the Norris Canyon HOV ramps are about reducing traffic? THINK AGAIN." Well that depends on where the traffic will be reduced.

The mailer claims, "MORE CARS ON LOCAL ROADS. The proposed Norris Canyon HOV ramps will dump traffic onto our local roads, impacting neighborhoods and putting kids at risk on the way to and from school."

Wow, is that out in left field! The goals of the HOV ramps are to reduce traffic on the I-680, but if the planning is correct there would be FEWER cars on local roads. I'll agree that's a maybe and not an absolute, but it is more likely than the naysayers' scenarios.

The ramps will make it easier for high speed buses to get on and off the I-680 HOV lanes. One bus could remove as many as 42 vehicles from the I-680 and that means 42 vehicles that ARE NOT exiting the freeway onto our local roads.

The traffic going to and from Bishop Ranch in the early mornings and late afternoons already clogs up our local roads. The HOV ramps would reduce the amount of traffic during peak hours. Vehicles using the HOV ramps would be restricted to buses, carpools, and vanpools during those hours.

The assumption in the mailer is that the buses would be empty. Buses are not heavily used in this area now, but this plan is for 5 to 10 years in the future. Buses are heavily used in other localities, and could be made more attractive to more commuters if they make the commute easier, less stressful, and cheaper. The HOV ramps are designed to produce those results.

During non-peak hours the only vehicles likely to use the HOV ramps would be people coming to shop in San Ramon and boosting our sales tax revenues and the people who live in those neighborhoods who are now objecting to this. Yes they would get the most benefit from having those HOV ramps close to home, but far enough away so other traffic would NOT impact their neighborhoods.

I've driven through there and that overpass on Norris Canyon is at least half-a-mile from the closest home and up a hill. You can't even see it from San Ramon Valley Blvd. Residents in that neighborhood fear their real estate values will be threatened by the HOV ramps on Norris Canyon, but so far they haven't been hurt by proximity to San Ramon Valley Blvd. and the Safeway shopping center which are much closer.

The next false claim in RED says "The cost: $102 million taxpayer dollars." Why do I say that's a false claim? Isn't this funded by taxpayer dollars? Sort of. This is funded by the ½ cent tax on gasoline originally passed in Measure C in 1988 and extended by Measure J in 2004. The money has been piling up for years and is dedicated to highway improvements in Contra Costa County. It CANNOT be spent on anything else.

Then the mailer says, "We don't need the Norris Canyon HOV ramps." Who doesn't need them? Who is "We?" " "We" consists of those who are against the ramps, so "They" don't need them. Other people who use the freeway might need them. In fact a San Ramon resident posted a comment in Tri Valley Views lamenting the lack of shuttle busses from the Tri-Valley to Silicon Valley. He's an example of someone who would need the HOV ramps.

These HOV ramps could be very valuable time savers, traffic reducers, cost savers, and provide a safer path for children going to school, but the anti-HOV faction, which is at most a few hundred frightened, angry, misinformed, NIMBY's, don't need them. So nobody should have them.

Photos in the mailer show children trying to cross the street and one with a skinned knee from falling of his bike. Apparently the anti-HOV crowd has not been paying attention to the improvements planned for the Norris Canyon overpass.

The overpass will be widened to include bike and pedestrian paths on both sides. The on and off ramps will have stop lights. The overpass will be seismically upgraded to better withstand a major earthquake. These improvements would benefit everyone who drives, walks, or bikes over that overpass.

The HOV fighters are under the impression that our City Council can prevent this. Three candidates have promised to vote against these HOV ramps, but the project is regional and has been planned for over ten years. This isn't a local issue that can be voted away by our City Council.

This isn't even a current issue. The actual construction of the ramps isn't scheduled to begin until 2018. So maybe the scary rhetoric should be toned down for now. Halloween is coming up soon. The HOV ramps are about as threatening as the ghosts and goblins out trick or treating on October 31.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by George Pappas, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:37 am

Roz, (and anyone out there drinking Roz's Kool-Aid)

Check out this link if you want to learn more about the history of the HOV ramps and the hard core facts. Roz has nothing to back up any of her statements, just commentary from her perspective.

Here's the link:

Web Link

Posted by Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm

If it's a gas tax, then don't taxpayers pay it? Whaddaya mean "sort of"?

Personally I'd rather see that money go towards many other potential county road improvement projects. It's not trapped HOV only funding.

Posted by Loving Roz's Kool-Aid, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Finally.... will you people who are opposing these HOV Ramps PLEASE READ what Roz has written. WHY does there seem to be the belief that the City Council can STOP this from happening??? It's not a LOCAL ISSUE PEOPLE. Don't think that voting for NEW people who OPPOSE this (for City Council seats) will keep it from happening. YOU ARE DEAD WRONG!!! Keep Hudson & add Sachs to the Council if you want people that have the City's back leading it.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


Your link doesn\'t work. Here\'s one that does. Web Link

This is the summary of all of the questions and objections from the meeting held here last March. I didn\'t see my name on the sign-in sheet but I remember being at that meeting. The crowd was so boisterous that the presenters could not get through their presentation and had to stop it to answer questions from the hostile crowd. All of the negative and a few positive comments are in the document linked above as well as a copy of the presentation they were not allowed to give.

As far as my Kool-Aid goes, it is better for you than Jim Gibbon\'s Kool-Aid. He wants to stop the ramps so BART can go on the I-680. That would be much worse for your neighborhood and all of San Ramon. Fortunately that cannot happen because CCTA doesn\'t have the money to put BART on the I-680 and you better hope they never do.

The other best option is to move the ramps to Executive Parkway. This may not be feasible because of the short distance to the exiting on-off ramps at Bollinger Canyon, but it appears to be the City Council\'s preferred option.

I also supported using Executive Parkway in a comment I emailed CCTA and in past commentaries. As often happens there\'s another neighborhood that opposes that option too, but they are not as vocal or large as the Twin Creeks crowd.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Oops it looks like my link does not work either. This might be a bug in the new format. I'm entering the full URL to the CCTA Scoping Meeting Summary from April 2013. Readers should be able to copy this into your browser. You shouldn't need the http or www, but you can add them if necessary.

Posted by George Pappas, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:37 pm

To: Loving Roz's Kool-Aid,
City Council CAN stop this. The City of San Ramon is listed as a "partner agency" as noted in the PSR and other CCTA documents. San Ramon sent a letter of support to CCTA (letter sent by SR Planning Director, Phil Wong)proclaiming San Ramon's support of the HOV project. I understand that if San Ramon pulls out as a partner agency - then they (CCTA) will just take their $102+ million and go build something else in the County under CCTA. Ask Dave Hudson if this is a fact or not. He is the one who keeps saying that if we lose this project, then we (San Ramon) lose the funds for anything built by CCTA in San Ramon. That's fine with me, take your money and your concrete trucks to Antioch, for all I care! San Ramon City Council CAN rescind the letter of support previously sent. So, Loving, you are dead wrong. IT IS A LOCAL ISSUE! Go to my link provided above. It has the facts, not nonsense. Roz is wrong, my link works just fine, and the link she provided is to the CCTA powerpoint. It works fine too. Roz, time to get a new computer! Read both links. You'll see how wrong this HOV idea is after you become educated on ALL the issues.

Posted by Harry Sachs, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 12, 2013 at 8:49 am

Roz- As you know I have researched this issue and it has been on my radar for several years.

I publicly oppose the 680 HOV Direct Access Ramps proposal for many reasons. The sound, noise and lighting impacts to the neighborhoods west of San Ramon Valley Blvd. would be devastating. The impacts to nearby local businesses would result in lost jobs and has the potential for some of the affected businesses to close as the construction timeline exceeds 24 months. The only non-freeway ramped east-west artery for residents to use would become severely congested. Also, access to San Ramon Regional Medical Center would be impeded. Finally, public safety concerns and the ?spillback effects? of on and off ramp signalized traffic onto nearby local roadways are all highly negative impacts which far outweigh any limited ?potential? benefits this proposal could offer. I will publicly support the No Build Option.

For more detailed information pleased visit my website where I have a detailed ?position paper? on the project.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Oct 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I know you have been against the HOV ramps for several years; so this is not just jumping on the political bandwagon for you. You present very good arguments against them, much better than some NIMBY\'s concerns about their property values. However I have several questions, and I don\'t know what, if any, answers are possible.

Dave Hudson has said this is a "top priority" for the CCTA, and this is something Dave would know. This project has been planned for over ten years and has a 20 year life span. So we are only half way through it now.

San Ramon has a couple of options. Move ahead with the ramps on Norris Canyon or move the ramps to Executive Parkway going east only. Executive Parkway is a good compromise, since it would keep cars out of the residential neighborhoods and require a smaller construction since there would be no traffic going west.
The Executive Parkway option would channel the busses directly into Bishop Ranch which is where most of the riders are probably headed. It would not back up traffic on a through street like Norris Canyon, and it would impact fewer residents.

The residents across from Executive Parkway have strenuously objected to that option, but the CCTA has promised to build a sound wall which they don\'t currently have, to reduce the noise to the neighborhood from the ramps and the existing traffic on the I-680. Other Councilmembers appear to be leaning in this direction.

The CCTA has a "No Build" option, but what would they replace it with? The CCTA was considering putting the ramps on the Sycamore overpass in Danville. That\'s not as efficient a location for commuters going to and from San Ramon, but it might be another option for CCTA.

Danville is already angry at San Ramon for dropping the Tri-Valley lobbying consultant. I\'m sure they will angrier if San Ramon\'s ramps are transferred to them.
Jim Gibbon would like BART or e-BART on the I-680 instead of HOV access and buses. This would be a better option for public transportation, but a much worse option for San Ramon.

Dave Hudson says there\'s not enough money to put BART on the 680, but that\'s now. If this project is stopped now, and the CCTA goes back to the drawing board, they could schedule this back out another 20 years while still accumulating that ½ cent gasoline tax. Measure J extended it to 2036.

Maybe that\'s not a realistic scenario, but if it is, we would get a 20 year reprieve and then BART! I\'ll be 91 and probably living in Maine by then, but it could be devastating for San Ramon.

Let\'s say BART is rejected by the CCTA and Danville fights the Sycamore option. What other options are there except Executive Parkway. Some form of mass transit will be necessary in the next 10 to 20 years.

Will we get BART on the Iron Horse Trail? I\'m a NIMBY over that one. So what will it be? They will do something. So we\'d better be prepared to make the best of it and negotiate with CCTA for our best option, which in my opinion is putting the ramps on Executive Parkway.


Posted by George Pappas, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

Dave Hudson stated at the Candidates' Forum at the Library on 9/25 that there is no way that the Executive Parkway option will ever be approved by CCTA due to funding. Not sure what he means by this, but I figure he knows something since he is on the CCTA Board. Perhaps he can explain further. I would wonder why they would spend another $1.5 to $2.0 million on an EIR if they already know for sure that funding will prohibit Executive Parkway from ever moving forward. Maybe this is how government works? Seems kind of backwards to me.....

Posted by Twin Creeks Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

There are many reasons to oppose the HOV ramps. One clearly measurable factual reason is that freeway noise presetly exceeds California Dept. of Health maximum noise exposure limits for residences near freeways. Adding massive concrete elevated ramps in the middle of 680 which force widening 680 by 60 ft. & cutting the adjacent mature trees will significantly increase the noise level even more. More noise will be reflected into neighborhoods & vehicle noise on the ramps will also be significant. Wonder if the "all knowing Roz & others" have ever stood on the sidewalk near Twin Creeks houses adjacent to 680 on a week day & sampled for themselves the "symphony of the freeway"----actually its more like an irritating heavy metal band. Before you obfuscate---get yourself a Dba meter & measure it!

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