Mr. Jeff Koshak
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Environmental Planning Section
1325 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
re: a “Replacement” Vehicular Bridge on the Guadalupe River
Dear Mr. Koshak,
I am writing to express my concerns about renewed plans to replace a formerly removed Union Pacific railroad bridge with a new vehicular bridge across the Guadalupe River, just south (upstream) of Coleman Avenue in San Jose.
As can be seen in the chart, the proposed bridge (shown in pink) would extend from “the Market Place” shopping center over the Guadalupe River to enhance access to a developable lot on the eastern bank.
Also shown in the chart:
· The planned extension of Autumn St., which is designed to enhance access from downtown to the Market Place shopping center, and to enhance access from I‑880 to the Arena and to the proposed Stadium near the Diridon Station.
· The east bank alignment of the Guadalupe River Trail – an existing multi-use off-street pathway that presently extends roughly a dozen miles from south of Downtown northward to the edge of the San Francisco Bay. (The trail is planned to be extended another dozen miles southward, and will connect to the Bay Area Ridge Trail near the Almaden Quicksilver County Park.)
· The west bank alignment of the Guadalupe River Trail – a partially completed trail that parallels the east-bank alignment in much of the Downtown region.
My concerns with the proposed vehicular bridge are as follows:
· The cross traffic will impede the flow on Autumn, which will impact the access to the Arena and the proposed Stadium.
· The existing east-bank Guadalupe River Trail most likely will need to be closed during the construction of the bridge. This is one of the principal trails of the Santa Clara County regional trail network, and also one of my regular bike-commute routes.
· Once the bridge is completed, the east-bank trail will have an unsignalized, at-grade crossing. Bicycle commuters do not like at-grade crossings, especially busy unsignalized ones, and as a result they will be less likely to forgo their cars for their commute bikes: this will have a carbon-footprint impact, and will also contribute to regional traffic congestion.
· The west-bank bike trail will also be impacted by the bridge, with trail users either having to stop at a signal or else worry about stopped/turning cross-traffic from the bridge.
· The Guadalupe River is home to migratory salmon and steelhead trout. I personally have seen 18"-long trout spawning a half-dozen miles upstream from this point, and have talked to several people who have observed salmon over 36" long upstream from here. The bridge will have some negative impact on the stream, both in terms of the sediment disturbed during construction, and in terms of the reduced vegetative canopy cover of the stream channel.
I don’t think a vehicular bridge is needed at this location. The parcel on the eastern bank is currently readily accessible off of Coleman (via Santa Teresa St., just west of Fwy. 87), and various development proposals (e.g., housing or the proposed Train Museum) are viable at that site without necessitating a bridge from the shopping center.
I’ve served for years on the Santa Clara Co. Parks & Rec. Commission, and worked for years on the County Trail Master Plan. I’ve put in additional years on San Jose’s Guadalupe River Task Force and on the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Environmental Advisory Committee. (I’m also an avid bicycle commuter.) I appreciate all the effort many people have expended to reach harmony here between man and nature, balancing public accessibility and environmental protection: I’d hate to see some road-bridge detract from this beautiful non-polluting bike-commute / nature trail. I am also concerned that a bad precedent may be set if land that has previously been negotiated as a permanent mitigation area is then later developed, especially if it is just so that some parcel can be built out at as another shopping center rather than as a museum!
Please do not approve the “replacement” vehicular bridge across the Guadalupe River near Coleman.
Dr. Lawrence Lowell Ames
cc: Leslee Hamilton, Exec. Dir., Guadalupe River Parks & Gardens