The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead federal agency in the environmental review process of the East Span Project. The FHWA has been working closely with Caltrans to move the East Span Seismic Safety Project forward. A construction project the size and scope of the East Span Project requires coordination with numerous local, state, and federal agencies as well as local communities. This is necessary to obtain required permits and approvals and to keep the project moving forward while addressing environmental impacts and local concerns.
and Development Commission
The East Span Project's relation to local and regional planning efforts and public concern regarding the project is a top priority. Caltrans formed a Project Development Team (PDT) to gather input on key project issues. The PDT includes representatives from the City of Oakland, the City and County of San Francisco, the Port of Oakland, congestion management agencies, East Bay Regional Park District, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Departments of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, transit providers, and others. The PDT meets quarterly for project updates and to respond to questions and comments regarding project issues.
The U.S. Navy's key concerns include the alignment of the replacement alternatives, land use on Yerba Buena Island (YBI), and potential impacts to historic buildings. The key concerns of the U.S. Coast Guard include uninterrupted operation of its facility on YBI during project construction and alignments of the replacement alternatives. The City of Oakland's key concerns include the aesthetic qualities of the East Span and the Oakland touchdown area, rail, and mitigation of impacts to the existing East Span, a historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The City and County of San Francisco's key concerns include seismic safety, alignments of the replacement alternatives, land use, redevelopment of YBI, and Treasure Island. The Port of Oakland's key concerns include its ability to implement future expansion plans. The East Bay Municipal Utility District's (EBMUD) key concerns include protecting operation of its facilities. EBMUD's outfall is shallow and highly susceptible to damage. If the southern alignment is chosen, EBMUD would strongly prefer relocation of its facilities, to avoid the risk of damage to components of the treatment process. The key concerns of the East Bay Regional Park District include the alignments of proposed replacement alternatives and the development of a future park at the Oakland touchdown. The East Bay Regional Park District supports selection of the northern alignment alternatives as having the fewest negative impacts and most positive effects on the proposed park.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released in May 2001. The FEIS provides updated information on the alternatives, impacts, and mitigation measures, and incorporates responses to public and agency comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The FEIS is posted on Caltrans District 4 Website. The Notice of Availability (NOA) was published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2001. The FHWA can file a Record of Decision (ROD) in the Federal Register after June 18, 2001. The ROD will close the NEPA environmental review process, explain the reasons for the project decision, and summarize mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. Construction of the East Span Project is targeted to begin in 2002.
The Dredge Material Management Plan was published and distributed in the summer of 1999. This report was prepared in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and documents methods to dispose of materials dredged from the Bay for project construction. As part of the Dredged Material Management Plan, Caltrans has tested for potential contamination of dredged materials and found very little contamination. However, if any contaminated sediments are encountered during dredging, efforts would be made to minimize impacts. Caltrans hopes to beneficially reuse most of the dredged materials depending on cost factors and availability of reuse sites. The plan evaluates a number of local reuse/disposal options, recommends a combined reuse/disposal option, and lists other viable options. The volume of dredged materials for construction of a replacement bridge and dismantling of the existing bridge is anticipated to be a maximum of 540,000 cubic yards. The plan was distributed to federal, state, regional, and local agencies, and to interested organizations and individuals. Comments received on this plan are addressed in the FEIS.
Caltrans submitted a Biological Assessment for the project to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Required by the federal Endangered Species Act, this document identifies and evaluates potential impacts to species listed as threatened or endangered under the act.
Caltrans consulted with the NMFS regarding potential impacts to fish species. NMFS determined that the measures Caltrans will implement during construction would avoid or minimize any impacts to endangered fish species. These measures will include the use of sound attenuation devices while pile driving during the peak migration period of juvenile salmon.
Memorandum of Agreement
Mitigation measures to reduce effects to historic properties have been developed and are included in a Memorandum of Agreement which has been signed by the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the State Office of Historic Preservation, and Caltrans.
Concurring parties including the U.S. Navy, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, and Ohlone Indians have been solicited for signatures on the Memorandum of Agreement. Several Ohlone Indians have signed the agreement.
The properties addressed in the Memorandum of Agreement include such historic resources as Nimitz House on Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge itself.
Impacts to the Senior Officers' Quarters Historic District are limited to construction period activities. Any vegetation removed as a result of construction will be replaced and the area will be returned to its pre-construction condition to the extent feasible. No historic building will be removed or demolished. Additionally, none of the bridge structures that would be built under any of the proposed alternatives will be built above the buildings of the Officers' Quarters Historic District.
Supplemental Draft Section 4(f)
The Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation has been published and distributed. This document complies with the Department of Transportation Act of 1996 and evaluates the project's potential impacts on publicly owned park and land from historic sites.
Caltrans is also consulting with the East Bay Regional Park District and other appropriate parties about incorporating interpretive exhibits into the proposed Oakland gateway park. These exhibits would display the Bay Bridge as originally constructed and include information about its history. Caltrans will also consult with the City and County of San Francisco regarding its interest in having similar interpretive exhibits installed on Yerba Buena Island.
Caltrans is consulting with the Oakland Museum of California, the Academy of Sciences and, other Bay Area museums to determine interest in presenting an exhibit about the history and engineering of San Francisco Bay bridges. The exhibit could include elements such as salvaged bridge components, photographs, models, and oral histories.
Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative Determination
Caltrans worked with the FHWA, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the NEPA/404 process. The ACOE and EPA determined that the Replacement Alternative N-6 is the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA). The LEDPA is a designation required under the federal Clean Water Act, Section 404(b)(1).
The FEIS for the project includes documentation on the NEPA/404 process.