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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Sierra Club Announces Opposition to the Eastside Parkway

January 2018

Jerry Smith CorridorBeautiful heritage oaks and woodlands are under threat from proposed Eastside Parkway on Fort Ord.
(Photograph: Steve Zmak).

Ventana Chapter has been following development at the former army base at Fort Ord since the 1980's. We sued on the original EIR for the Base Reuse Plan and achieved a settlement agreement that curtailed new development. A major focus for protection were the large tracks of oak woodland habitat and rare old growth heritage oaks.

We have been working ever since to protect this unique plant community. The latest threat to these oaks is a proposed Eastside Parkway. This roadway would be intended to be a Southwest-Northeast arterial component of the Fort Ord transportation network near Seaside and Marina. Much of the acreage set aside for this project consists of mature oak woodlands which we have previously committed to preserve with a formal Habitat Protection Plan.

The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) has announced that the official environmental review process will begin in March with the distribution of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for a 30-day review period. The process is expected to take until July 2019. The Chapter has announced opposition to this roadway consistent with priorities from our National Sierra Club.

National Sierra Club has consistently held policies which discourage road building as a cause of sprawl, congestion and other urban woes. Building new roads and increasing capacity on existing roads brings "induced" traffic - essentially "if you build it, they will come." Motorists will make longer trips, increase miles traveled, and new roads will encourage more sprawl development. In fact, only three years after new roadways open, traffic fills road capacity between 50 and 100 percent. Clearly, congestion is not something we can build ourselves out of with more road construction; it actually perpetuates traffic problems.

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