Pixel Tracker

Friday, March 22 , 2019, 4:27 am | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Cold Spring Bridge Barrier Construction to Stay on Hold Pending Public Review

Judge reiterates an earlier ruling that Caltrans first must comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act

Until the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge barrier project goes through another period of public review, construction remains on hold. Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle didn’t elaborate Tuesday on his tentative ruling, which denied Caltrans’ request to continue construction while it complies with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Friends of the Bridge, a group that sued Caltrans over CEQA processes, was victorious in a July 13 ruling in which Anderle told Caltrans to recirculate certain environmental documents again, as it had not properly done so the first time around.

Tuesday’s hearing further directed Caltrans to recirculate — including public noticing, meetings and a public comment period — sections of the environmental impact report in order to comply with CEQA.

Caltrans representative Ankush Agarwal asked Anderle to clarify exactly what to recirculate and what should be done with the project site in the meantime, as Caltrans worries about future legal challenges from the Friends of the Bridge and the group’s lawyer, Marc Chytilo, but the judge refused.

“I have done the very best I could,” he said. “I’m not going to give you any more than I’ve given.”

After the brief hearing, Caltrans public information officer Jim Shivers said he was unsure what the ruling’s effects will be on the project cost or site. Caltrans has received many requests to take down the bright orange plastic fencing, but that was not brought up in court, he said.

The contractors, who worked on drilling holes for the barrier during a brief period before the case went to court, are on standby.

The project is “still worthy of the time and worthy of the effort,” he said. “We’re fully committed to getting this project to construction.”

Chytilo and Friends of the Bridge member Marc McGinnes celebrated the ruling, embracing outside of the courtroom and saying that continuing construction without CEQA compliance would have been inappropriate.

“We want Caltrans to get it right,” Chytilo said.

Chytilo said he and the petitioners believe that the case requires a robust public participation process in order to fulfill the CEQA process, and if Caltrans takes shortcuts, it does so at its own peril.

“Absolutely they know we’ll be watching,” he said.

From here, Caltrans will submit paperwork to the court once it fulfills its recirculation requirements explaining how it has complied. Then, the petitioners can object to it or not, and the court consequently will issue a ruling on the matter.

Anderle reiterated that the court has no authority in discussing whether a barrier should be erected, and said he cannot — and has not — read any materials from the public concerning the case.

Click here for Noozhawk’s series on the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge barrier project. Click here for the current EIR and more information on the suicide barrier project from Caltrans.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.