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Caspar Community Meeting: April 2000
Caspar Meets State and County Traffic Managers
On Sunday, April 9th, the regular meeting of the Caspar Community will focus on traffic problems in Caspar. Representatives from the state of California and the County of Mendocino will be present to hear the concerns of the community, and to present their findings and plans. The meeting will take place at 3pm at the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community Center in downtown Caspar.
Making presentations will be Mark Suchanek, CalTrans District One Traffic Safety Office Chief, and Larry Alexander, County Transportation Department's Caspar Pathway Project Engineer.
"Every time we talk about improving conditions in Caspar, two big topics come up," Caspar Community president Mike Dell'Ara explains. "Right after preservation of open space, up pops traffic as our second most important shared concern. We hope nothing happens to make traffic our biggest worry."
Patty Madigan, a representative of the Caspar Traffic Brigade points out that Caspar residents have expressed many concerns about traffic. "Increasingly, we're a village of walkers and bicyclists, and traffic patterns need to be adjusted to reflect these changes." Madigan ticks off a number of safety issues, ranging from the CalTrans' high-speed off ramp at the north entrance of Caspar to the lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities on Caspar Bridge. Another problem area is the intersection of Highway One at Caspar Street and Fern Creek Road.
Mendocino County Transportation Department has successfully sought funds to improve pedestrian pathways in Caspar and Potter Valley, another community where walking is becoming more prevalent. According to the Transportation Department's Bob Parker, walkways will be constructed later this year along a majority of downtown Caspar's most popular pedestrian routes. At a recent Traffic Brigade meeting, Caspar native Stuart Tregoning remembered walking to school along Caspar Road on a pathway well-separated from cars, and applauded the County's plan.
Judy Tarbell, a founding member of Caspar Community's non-profit association, has been advocating a change in the vehicular approach to Caspar from the north for five years. "It is just too easy for any of us, visitors and residents alike, to whiz into Caspar at excessive speeds," explains Tarbell. "Tourists see the ocean beckoning, and veer off the highway. Suddenly they are on a residential street, but driving at highway speed. Every day we see RVs and other newcomers frustrated when they come to the end of the road. No amount of signage seems to help."
In 1998, University of California planners under the direction of Professor Randolph Hester recommended "traffic calming measures" along Caspar's main thoroughfares, as well as a changed alignment at Caspar's north entrance. Since then, plans for a pedestrian trail under Caspar bridge, and a bicycle trail following the course of Old Highway One across the millpond have been proposed.
"We have some great plans, but up until now our problem has been that county and state agencies point at each other and nothing happens," according to Michael Potts, a resident of Caspar. "We're encouraged that CalTrans and County Transportation are sending representatives to meet with us and work together."
The Caspar Community believes that traffic is an issue that unites everyone in Caspar. All concerned members of the community are invited and encouraged to come to the Sunday meeting and join in the planning process.
written by Michael Potts & Jerry Juhl for the Mendocino Beacon, 6 April 2000
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