Letter: Bridge project demands an EIS
I’m hoping everyone currently supporting, or opposed to, the proposed CDOT Grand Avenue bridge project read the editorial, “Build a pedestrian bridge over Grand,” published in Dec. 1’s P.I. You couldn’t make a better argument against this project than finally admitting that, in the future, we will need a pedestrian overpass to cross Grand Avenue.
For those of you who haven’t visited Los Angeles, pedestrian overpasses are structures that allow people to cross a highway when it cuts through a town. They are built when there is so much traffic that you cannot safely cross the street. They are built when traffic flow is the priority.
If you have been sitting on the sidelines during this Environment Assessment (EA) review process, let me bring you up to date. Here is the definition of an EA:
An EA as described in Section 1508.9 of CEQ’s NEPA Regulations is a concise public document which has three defined functions:
1. It briefly provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an EIS;
2. It aids an agency’s compliance with NEPA when no EIS is necessary, i.e., it helps to identify better alternatives and mitigation measures; and
3. It facilitates preparation of an EIS when one is necessary — Section 1508.9(a).
Please look again at items 2 and 3. If this project was simply replacing the existing Grand Avenue bridge, then an EA would be sufficient. The problem is that this project has morphed from a bridge replacement to a major regional rerouting of traffic off of I-70 onto Highway 82. It reroutes local, state and interstate traffic, condemns private businesses and property and adds to the hardship of an ever-increasing traffic flow in our town. Simply put, for a project of this scale, an EA is deficient and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required.
State funds have been approved for improving the Grand Avenue bridge. We keep hearing that if we don’t spend the allocated funds we will lose them. Agreed. Let’s spend this money on the existing Grand Avenue bridge and make it work or demand the EIS.
Editor’s note: As a point of clarification, the editorial cited discusses the difficulty of crossing Grand Avenue already, not in the future.
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