Weapons Station development would snarl traffic, report says

Paul Thissen

The redevelopment of the Concord Naval Weapons Station would snarl traffic as far away as Walnut Creek and Pittsburg, hurt the region’s air quality and permanently alter the landscape of Central Contra Costa County, according to an environmental review released Friday.

The City of Concord’s environmental review considers plans that would add as many as 12,272 housing units, 28,800 residents and 26,530 jobs on the inland portion of the former U.S. Navy munitions depot in Concord.

The report considers everything from traffic noise to pond turtles and hazardous materials to mineral deposits.

After efforts to remedy various impacts of development, the remaining significant impacts would be traffic snarls, air quality changes and incompatibility of the plan’s dense development near existing low-density North Concord neighborhoods, according to the report.

The report was the next step after the City Council chose its preferred weapons station plan in January — a “clustered villages” design with dense development near the North Concord/Martinez BART station and a trio of “villages” along the southwest border of the base. Each village would have its own parks, schools and retail space.

In addition to the council’s preferred plan, the “concentration and conservation” alternate plan and a scenario with no construction on the base are considered in the report’s 18 chapters, 16 appendices and hundreds of pages.

The “clustered villages” plan sets about 65 percent of the base aside as open space; the “concentration and conservation” alternative sets aside about 73 percent.

Traffic and air quality get worse under all three options. But both development options would lead to longer delays on dozens of roads, onramps and intersections. Traffic would be worse on Highway 4 into Pittsburg and at the intersection of Geary Road and Main Street in Walnut Creek, for example.

The “clustered villages” and “concentration and conservation” had similar, but not identical, traffic effects.

“The report does a very good job in identifying the issues and doing a basic round of trying to mitigate for these impacts,” said Christina Wong of the environmental group Greenbelt Alliance. She wishes the report better detailed the links between jobs and housing to help limit how much people would need to drive.

The report sets out myriad mitigation measures the city and developers would need to implement before construction could begin. To help with traffic concerns, developers would need to pay a fee to county transportation authorities based on calculations of the cost of roads and related infrastructure brought about by the new development.

And developers and construction personnel will be required to protect a number of threatened species and their habitats by avoiding those habitats and creating replacement habitat elsewhere. In the case of the Western pond turtle, a biologist would be required to relocate any turtle discovered during construction.

The review is available at www.concordreuseproject.org. The 45-day public comment period on the review ends Oct. 15.

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http://www.contracostatimes.com/localnews/ci_13240669?nclick_check=1

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