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Dam traffic to be routed through Sleepy Hollow

- Will share burden with Cachagua


Published: October 12, 2012

AFTER A month of public controversy, allegations of favoritism and threats of lawsuits over the routing of construction traffic for the removal of San Clemente Dam through Cachagua instead of Sleepy Hollow, the president of the Sleepy Hollow homeowners association said Thursday that residents of that upscale community have agreed to let a significant amount of the dam-removal traffic go through their neighborhood.

“We met with Cal Am and negotiated how they could use San Clemente Drive,” said Steve Woolpert of the Sleepy Hollow association. “We’ve essentially accommodated the project.”

Traffic to the top of the dam will go through Cachagua, while traffic to the bottom will go through Sleepy Hollow, confirmed Jeff Szytel of Water Systems Consulting, who is managing the project for Cal Am.

The agreement between the Sleepy Hollow Homeowners Association and Cal Am was signed just eight days before the Monterey County Planning Commission hosted a key hearing on the dam-removal project Sept. 12. The agreement, reviewed by The Pine Cone Thursday, makes it clear Cal Am can use Sleepy Hollow’s San Clemente Drive — with some limitations.

In exchange for Sleepy Hollow’s residents not opposing the project, as well as the project’s use of San Clemente Drive, Cal Am agreed that it will not use vehicles heavier than 10 tons on the road. The water company also consented to limiting traffic on the road to 120 round trips per month and 30 round trips per week.

Other conditions Cal Am agreed to include limiting traffic on San Clemente Drive to 20 mph; limiting traffic to weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., not using any area within Sleepy Hollow — or near the intersection of San Clemente Drive and Carmel Valley Road — for staging or parking, and implementing a variety of mitigation measures to reduce the impact of the project on the Sleepy Hollow community.

If Cal Am doesn’t comply with the road agreement, the water company has agreed to pay fines for each violation. For instance, if Cal Am exceeds 120 round trips per month, it would be fined $500 per extra trip. And if the load of a truck exceeds 10 tons, Cal Am would pay a penalty of $2,500 for each round trip.

Cal Am also agreed to pay for repairs to Tularcitos Creek Bridge and San Clemente Drive for any damage caused by construction traffic.

It’s unclear precisely how much traffic will be routed through Sleepy Hollow — in part because the project doesn’t have a contractor yet. “We’re working on construction traffic numbers now,” Szytel said.

When the project eventually does get started, both the Cachagua and Sleepy Hollow communities will be significantly impacted by the project’s traffic.

“There will be some short-term pains, but hopefully, there will be some long-term gains for everybody,” said Rich Svindland, Cal Am’s director of engineering, referring to the project’s goals, which include reducing seismic risks and improving steelhead habitat.

According to Svindland, the road agreement was finalized shortly before the Sept. 12 hearing because “the county needed proof” that Cal Am could use San Clemente Drive for at least part of the dam-removal project.

After voicing their opposition to the traffic plan at a Sept. 25 meeting at the Cachagua General Store, residents will get another chance to comment Wednesday, Oct. 24, when the store hosts meetings at 1 and 6 p.m. The meetings were originally set for Oct. 11.

The change of date gives Cal Am two more weeks to weigh alternatives and mitigation measures in response to residents’ concerns — and provide more details about the volume of traffic that will impact San Clemente Drive and other Upper Carmel Valley roads.

“We are evaluating additional measures to reduce impacts of the project to the Cachagua community and need more time to ensure we are prepared to adequately address residents’ questions and concerns,” said Catherine Bowie, a Cal Am spokesperson.

Set to begin this fall, the $83 million project can’t get started until the Monterey County Planning Commission issues a permit. Most of the actual dismantling of the dam will occur between 2013 and 2015. The planning commission postponed taking action on the project Sept. 12.

The Cachagua General Store is located at 18840 Cachagua Road.