Draft Environmental Impact Report SR 68 (Holman Highway) Widening Project

Added by: 
Benjamin Wahle
Summary: 
State Route 68 in Monterey County is a two-lane undivided roadway that serves as the primary transportation facility between State Route 1 and the City of Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. State Route 68 is heavily congested during the weekday afternoon period from 3pm to 6pm (City of Monterey). In order to reduce traffic congestion and the likelihood of accidents that could potentially delay emergency vehicle access to Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula the 1993 Regional Transportation Plan recommended widening State Route 68 to four lanes from 0.2 km (0.1 miles) west of the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula intersection to south of the State Route 68 overpass at State Route 1. The following environmental document is a California Environmental Quality Act Environmental Impact Report in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970. Due to federal funding, this project is also subject to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, however it was determined that the project qualifies for a Programmatic Categorical Exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (Federal Highway Administration/CalTrans). The major resources of concern for the proposed State Route 68 (Holman Highway) Widening Project are biological and visual resources.
Date Range: 
1940-12-30 - 2006-12-20
Chronology: 

1940s: Holman Highway (State Route 68), a two-lane undivided roadway was constructed between the junction with State Route 1 and the City of Pacific Grove.

1950s: Holman Highway was upgraded and designated as part of State Route 68 with a posted speed of 55 kilometers per hour.

1980s: Monterey Peninsula cities formed the Holman Highway Task Force to address access problems to CHOMP and levels of service along Route 68 (City of Monterey).

1994: The 1993 Regional Transportation Plan recommendation on the widening of Route 68 to four lanes from 0.2 km (0.1 miles) was adopted.

November 2000: A Project Study Report for this project was completed.

September 9, 2002: The Planning Development Team met during critical phases in project development.

September 16, 2002: The Planning Development Team met during critical phases in project development.

October 8, 2002: The Planning Development Team met during critical phases in project development.

February 6, 2003: A public scoping meeting was held at the Monterey City Council Chambers.

February 25, 2003: A Notice of Preparation was signed.

March 13, 2003: The Planning Development Team met during critical phases in project development.

July 3, 2003: The format, location, and date of the license plate survey conducted by Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants were approved in a meeting held with the City of Monterey Traffic Engineer.

July 15, 2003: Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants in association with the firm All Traffic Data (ATD) and the City of Monterey conducted a study to record the license plates of traffic entering and exiting the Skyline Neighborhood adjacent to Highway 1 and Highway 68 at the southwest end of the City of Monterey during the hours of 7:00 to 9:00 AM and 4:00 to 6:00 PM.

November 2003: Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants published their license plate study conducted on July 15, 2003.

February 19, 2004: PAR Environmental Services, Inc. published the Technical Study Final Report on hazardous materials in the project area. Title: Initial Site Assessment for the Proposed State Route 68 (Holman Highway) Widening Project, City of Monterey, Monterey County, California, Final Report. (PAR Environmental Services, Inc.).

March 2004: PAR Environmental Services, Inc. published the Technical Study Report on cultural resources in the project area. Title: Historic Property Survey Report, State Route 68 (Holman Highway) Proposed Widening Project, City of Monterey, Monterey County, California. (PAR Environmental Services, Inc.).

May 2004: PAR Environmental Services, Inc. published the Technical Study Final Report on visual resources in the project area. Title: Visual Resource Assessment for the Proposed Route 68 (Holman Highway) Widening Project in the City of Monterey, Monterey County, California, Final Report. (PAR Environmental Services, Inc.).

May 24, 2004: Bollard & Brennan, Inc. published the Technical Study Final Report on the environmental noise analysis for this project. Title: Environmental Noise Analysis/ Caltrans Protocol Technical Analysis for the Proposed Route 68 (Holman Highway) Widening Project in the City of Monterey, California, Final Report. (Bollard & Brennan, Inc.).

July 2004: TY Lin International/CCS published the Technical Study Final Report on the air quality analysis for this project. Title: Environmental Air Quality Analysis for the Proposed Route 68 (Holman Highway) Widening Project, City of Monterey, California, Final Report. July 2004 (TY Lin International/CCS).

August 25, 2004: The Planning Development Team met during critical phases in project development.

October 2004: PAR Environmental Services, Inc. published the Technical Study Final Report on biological resources in the project area. Title: Route 68 Widening Project, Natural Environment Study, Including Avoidance, Minimization, Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, Final Report. (PAR Environmental Services, Inc.).

February 8, 2005: The Planning Development Team met during critical phases in project development.

April 17, 2006: A meeting was held at the Monterey Public Library for the residents living adjacent to the proposed project area to inform the neighbors of the proposed project that the noise analysis found that the area does not meet the criteria to warrant a noise barrier (City of Monterey).

June 2006: The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the SR 68 Widening Project was published and released for public and agency review.

July 2006: The City of Monterey initiated an additional noise analysis, as a direct result of the April 2006 meeting.

September 1, 2006: A letter was sent to residents living adjacent to the project area summarizing the recent noise measurements and encouraging the review of the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

November 30, 2006: A public hearing was held at the City of Monterey Council Chambers.

December 20, 2006: The public comment period was closed.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The Holman Highway section of State Route 68 runs between the junction with State Route 1 and the City of Pacific Grove in Monterey County. It is the primary method of transportation between the City of Pacific Grove, The Pebble Beach Community, and the Community Hospital of The Monterey Peninsula (Draft EIR SR 68 Widening Project 2006). This section of highway is subject to heavy congestion and delays during the day, especially between the hours of 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants). The 1993 Regional Transportation Plan recommended that SR 68 be widened from 2 lanes (1 Eastbound, 1 Westbound) to 4 lanes (2 in each direction). This recommendation was adopted in 1994. The project would put a 4 lane highway in the area 0.2 km (0.1 miles) west of the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula intersection to south of the State Route 68 overpass at State Route 1 (DEIR 2006).

PURPOSE/NEED

The purpose of the proposed project is to improve traffic safety, traffic operations, reduce rear-end accidents, and improve/reduce emergency vehicles service delays (DEIR 2006). The California Department of Transportation Accident Surveillance and Analysis System shows that the accident for State Route 68 is slightly above state average. Widening the highway could potentially reduce this rate. It would also reduce the likelihood of accidents that delay emergency vehicles from reaching the hospital which is crucial because the only way to access the hospital is from the highway. Future traffic for 2020 on SR 68 is projected to increase by 24% (DEIR). In such a case congestion and delays on the current highway would increase as well. Widening the highway could potentially mitigate this increase in traffic.

ALTERNATIVES

The Draft EIR proposes multiple alternatives including a no build alternative. Some alternatives were kept and some were (City of Monterey). The following is a list of alternatives and their descriptions.

-Considered Alternatives

-No Build Alterative: the highway would remain the same and traffic would continue to be congested and delayed.
-Build Alternative 3- 4 Lane Facility (proposed project): At a total capital cost of $18.539 million (Mark Thomas and Company 2000), this alternative would create a four lane highway in the project area with easier access to the hospital and eliminate left turns from eastbound traffic across the westbound lanes (currently legal).
-Ramp Variation 1- Five Legged Intersection: This alternative would create a five-legged intersection option that would result in all traffic movements to be brought together near a new State Route 68/State Route 1 southbound ramp intersection.

-Considered but Eliminated from Further Discussion

-Build Alternative 1 – Three Lane Facility (Eastbound Widening)
-Build Alternative 2 – Three Lane Facility (Westbound Widening)
-Ramp Variation 2 – Roundabout
-Ramp Variation 3 – Collector-Distributor Road
-Traffic Systems Management

ISSUES OF CONERN/MITIGATION

Biological Resources

-The project requires the removal of 322 Monterey pine trees
-The loss of Monterey pine forest due to the State Route 68 project contributes to the region wide decline in potential dusky-footed woodrat habitat on the Monterey peninsula
-The wetland and other waters identified during the field survey are not within the project limits

Mitigation: All impacts are less than significant with mitigation

-Compensation for the loss of Monterey pine forest involves restoring the pine forest in a portion of the disturbed Old Capitol Site, a 76.2-acre parcel located near the project area.
-To avoid adverse impacts on the woodrat population, a qualified wildlife biologist shall survey the project impact area for evidence of dusky-footed woodrat nests and if found, in consultation with California Department of Fish and Game, shall live-trap the woodrat(s) and relocate to a suitable site (DEIR).
-Mitigation for loss of Monterey Pine forests will also help to mitigate on woodrats in the project area
-Because the project does not fall in any wetland areas, the impacts to wetlands will be insignificant and planning will not fall within the bounds of wetland areas, which will be designated as Environmentally Sensitive Areas.

Visual Resources

-Because of the need for retaining walls and more paved roads, the project would reduce the visual quality in the area which is a large part of property value

Mitigation: Less than significant with mitigation

-Native Oak Trees would be replaced
-Special permits would govern removal of healthy native trees in the project area
-Native vegetation would be used to the full extent in fulfilling landscape requirements
-An Architectural Review Committee and an Aesthetic Design Advisory Committee shall oversee the landscape plan that is incorporated into the SR 68 project plan

Air Quality

-The proposed project would generate construction related dust emissions on a short-term time scale

Mitigation: Less than Significant

-By use of chemical soil stabilizers, daily watering, and vegetative wind breaks dust emissions could be greatly reduced
-Coverage of dust generating piles and maintaining a well swept construction site would also mitigate dust emissions

Hazardous Materials/Noise/Complications with Utilities and Service Systems

-All are less than significant or less than significant with mitigation
-Noise will be controlled and governed by the Caltrans Noise Standards
-Monitoring of Hazardous Materials and Public Utilities/Service Systems will insure that there are no harmful environmental or human impacts

INVOLVED AGENCIES

Lead Agency: State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in Cooperation with the City of Monterey

Consulting Agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, Department of Toxic Substances Control, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, Monterey Fire District, Monterey County Environmental Health Department, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, County of Monterey Public Works Department, State Historic Preservation Officer, Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP), Pacific Grove Heritage Society, Monterey Historical Society, Pebble Beach Company, City of Monterey, Del Monte Forest Property Owners Association, Monterey County Assessor’s Office, Native American Heritage Commission, Amah/Mutsun Tribal Band, Indian Canyon Mustan Band of Coastanoans, Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe, Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselten Nation, Amah San Juan Band

Keywords: 
Environmental Impact Report, Categorical Exclusion, mitigation
Geographic Area: 
The project falls in the area of Monterey County between the SR 68/1 junction and west of the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. The area is in between two high-end residential area and westbound leads to the City of Pacific Grove.
  County: