LandWatch.org

Green Watchdog Says Prunedale Bypass Is
Environmental and Fiscal Mistake

Citizens for Responsible Growth
820 Park Row, Number 505, Salinas CA 93901 Voice Mail (831) 753-6464

For Immediate Release

February 5, 2003

Full Report Available at: http://www.ecoventure.org/greencapitol/

Contacts: Doug Kasunich, Prunedale HELP, 831-663-2018
Doug Linney, Green Capitol, 510-444-4710
Alexander Urciuoli, CFRG, 831-753-4209

STATEWIDE REPORT HIGHLIGHTS PRUNEDALE BYPASS AS BOONDOGGLE FOR TAXPAYERS

The Prunedale Bypass is highlighted as a waste of taxpayer dollars according to the Green Watchdog annual report on government spending in California, released yesterday.

The Green Watchdog is a statewide publication endorsed by 40 organizations including the California Tax Reform Association, League of Women Voters of California, Green Capitol, Congress of California Seniors, CALPIRG, the Consumer Federation of California and numerous other consumer, environmental and taxpayer groups around the state. The report highlights policies and projects that are excessively expensive and/or harmful to the environment. The report also recommends less expensive, more effective alternatives which benefit the public good. According to the 2003 report, seeking alternatives to the projects and policies it outlines would save California taxpayers a total of over $25 billion dollars over the next five years.

Rather than building the Prunedale Bypass as currently proposed, the report recommends that CALTRANS and local TAMC officials instead implement their Safety and Operational Plan as the most cost effective way to achieve safety improvement goals for Highway 101 with the least impacts to the Prunedale area. This would save state and local taxpayers $320 million over 20 years and eliminate the need for new taxes, fees and assessments. The cost of the alternative safety improvements endorsed by the Green Watchdog is estimated to be about $210 million, the amount already slated by the state for improving the highway in Prunedale. In comparison, the current Bypass proposal would cost $520 million.

Doug Kasunich of H.E.L.P (Homes Environment Land People) in Prunedale, a grassroots residents' organization dedicated to improving the existing Highway 101, notes, " The Bypass does not address safety issues to the existing highway which must be dealt with." Kasunich also says he is pleased that the Bypass made it into the 2003 report so that the issue can be given the attention it deserves.

According to the Green Watchdog report, the proposed Prunedale Bypass also fails to pass muster from an environmental point of view since it could induce development in areas of Monterey County that are not presently urbanized. Indeed, the report notes that the Bypass is listed in the original Draft Environmental Impact Report for the County's controversial Rancho San Juan development as a necessary mitigation measure for the project's final approval.

Alexander Urciuoli, a board member of Citizens For Responsible Growth (CFRG), a Salinas based organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility and sound land use policy, praises the Green Watchdog report saying the Bypass would indeed facilitate Rancho San Juan becoming a reality. In Urciuoli's opinion, the Prunedale Bypass also represents a "double taxation whammy" for Salinas residents since they would be called upon to foot their share of the bypass project as well as absorb the increased tax and service burden generated by Rancho San Juan which is slated to be built immediately adjacent to the city's present boundaries.

"This is not something Salinas can afford. We should be very clear about what types of projects are in Salinas' best interests. The Prunedale Bypass and Rancho San Juan do not serve those interests. From CFRG's point of view, if safety improvements on Highway 101 are the priority they need to be, let's take the money we've got from the State and accomplish that goal without taking up all the County's transportation dollars for the next 20 years", Urciuoli says.

The Green Watchdog report for 2003 can be viewed on line at Green Capitol's website: www.greencap.org The section on the Prunedale Bypass in available only on-line in the "Additional Green Watchdog Issues" section or may be accessed directly at: www.ecoventure.org/greencapitol/prunedale.htm It is not part of the hard copy report which deals principally with state policy issues.

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02/06/03