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Like Hank Sims, I too was assured the Richardson Grove project was just a minor tweak, without any environmental consequences, and great for local businesses but without any impact on traffic, or sprawl, or Big Boxes, or anything else bad ("Town Dandy," April 9). The county's media campaign was very effective -- that is, until we discovered that it was publicly funded propaganda, and that we've been ham-handed.

Now I know better, because I have learned a few things:

The economic benefits of this project are questionable and confusing. As Caltrans itself put it: "Proposed project would not result in significant increases in overall economic productivity in the region." (DEIR pg. 45). It's not about safety, which is best accomplished with speed control, but about accommodating (fostering?) growth, development and inter-regional commerce, according to Caltrans' Strategic Plan. With 299 at Buckhorn and 199/197 open, we will see lots more truck traffic that is currently shunted off to I-5.

Murrelet surveys will be done only after the project. Even though Richardson Grove is critical habitat, no one knows much about the resident population, and murrelets are going extinct south of Richardson Grove.

More troubling is what is not being discussed, namely reasonable alternatives. Whatever remains in that convoluted Headwaters Grant should fund a thorough and unbiased real educational campaign that takes a genuine look at the serious consequences of the Richardson Grove project and some of the real alternatives to diesel trucking, including the long-awaited appropriately scaled maritime highway using our port.

Jessica Puccinelli, Fortuna


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