Representatives of the Contra Costa Transit Authority came to the Thursday night to talk to the public about a proposal to build high occupancy on- and off-ramps at Norris Canyon Road.
The CCTA set up tables around the large conference room, hoping to speak to the public in small groups about the advantages of having the HOV ramps.
But none of the 120 or so visitors at the workshop sat at the tables. Instead, they listened to the CCTA's presentation and then publicly said what they thought. And their message was clear — they don't want the ramps.
"There's no reason to study this," one member from the public said. "The community doesn't want it. Simple as that."
The I-680/Norris Canyon HOV Direct Ramps Project would add HOV lanes (for buses, carpools and vanpools) on and off of I-680 at Norris Canyon Road. A portion of the funding for the $102 million project comes from Measure J, the rest would come from grants and other sources. The City of San Ramon would not be responsible for any of the funding.
The CCTA says the ramps would help alleviate traffic at Bollinger Canyon and Crow Canyon Road and make access easier to Bishop Ranch.
The proposal is just entering the Environmental Impact Report phase, which isn't expected to be completed for 18 months.
Tensions between the public and the CCTA representatives were high, as residents from the project area detailed a number of community concerns.
Of about the 30 residents that spoke, some talked about how they don't see a need for the ramps (with on- and off-ramps already at Crow Canyon and Bollinger Canyon) and some said the project was a waste of money considering the economic climate.
But a theme that was mentioned over and over was safety. With Norris Canyon Road currently the only connection between east and west San Ramon that doesn't have traffic from the freeway, residents said they don't want that to change, especially with nearby.
Just over a week ago, a when he was hit by a vehicle on his bike at an I-680/Bollinger Canyon intersection.
"My own kids won't be at Twin Creeks anymore when the project is built, but my neighbors' will be," San Ramon resident Amy Johns said. "It isn't going to be safe anymore."
Currently, the CCTA says the City of San Ramon is partner in the project, but residents pressed the agency hard about what would happen if the city backed out of its support.
"If the city withdraws, Caltrans and the CCTA would have to decide what to do," said Scott Steinwert, President of Circlepoint, which is consulting the CCTA.
San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson silently listened during the workshop. He said the city will have hearings on the project and continue to listen to the public and in order to help officials decide what is the best long-term plan for San Ramon.
There is an alternative plan to the Norris Canyon ramps. At Executive Parkway, the CCTA is looking if it would be possible to have an off-ramp for westbound traffic.
"It sounds more appealing than Norris Canyon," Johns said.