V. TRANSPORTATION / CIRCULATION

Discussion

The project area includes major highways and thoroughfares that carry substantial traffic. U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 237 are primary highways with 24-hour traffic volumes in the project area reaching up to 182,00 and 91,000 vehicles, respectively. North First Street, Trimble Road, Zanker Road and Lafayette Street are each major thoroughfares with high traffic volumes. Traffic congestion is significant problem on most major thoroughfares during peak commute hours and the level of service is minimally acceptable or unacceptable on many streets. Unacceptable level of surface (over Level D in San Jose and over Level E in Santa Clara) currently occurs at North First/Trimble in the p.m., North First/Montague in the p.m., Montague Expressway/Trimble in the p.m., Montague Expressway/Zanker Road, Trimble Road/Zanker Road in the a.m., De La Cruz/Trimble Road in the p.m., and Lafayette/Central in the p.m.

a) The Nortech Substation siteís construction entrance would be located on an access road that joins North First Street, or alternatively from Disk Street, which connects to Nortech Parkway and North First Street. The substationís operational entrance would be on a paved driveway from the north side via Disk Street. The substation will require only occasional inspection and maintenance by PG&E personnel (once a month); these would have no net change in traffic in the long term.

No changes in access are proposed for the existing Trimble and Kifer Substations. The Trimble Substation is located just off North First Street in San Jose. The Kifer Receiving Station is located on Comstock Street and Duane Avenue near Lafayette Street in the City of Santa Clara (and just south of U.S. Highway 101).

The proposed Trimble-Nortech power line alignment runs from the Trimble Substation easterly along Component Drive crossing North First Street, northerly along North First Street to Trimble Road, easterly along Trimble Road crossing Zanker Road, northerly along Zanker Road crossing the Montague Expressway and State Route 237, then westerly along the northern side of State Route 237 to the Nortech Substation.

The proposed Kifer-Nortech power line crosses vacant land northerly of the receiving station, crossing Duane Avenue and spanning U.S. Highway 101, northerly along Bassett Road, crossing the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, then northerly along Lafayette Street crossing the Montague Expressway and State Route 237 where Lafayette Street changes to Gold Street, then easterly along the access road on the northern side of State Route 237 to the Nortech Substation. During construction of the project, the maximum number of workers distributed among all work sites would be 70 (PG&E, 1998 PEA). Truck and worker commute trips to and from the site would increase during the construction period over the negligible traffic currently routed to the site. The site receives appreciable traffic only during services at the adjacent church, primarily weekend and evening events. The impact of the construction-related trip generation on traffic volumes would be negligible for construction at the Trimble Substation and Kifer Receiving Station, and for construction of the power lines. During operation, no workers would be permanently located on the proposed Nortech site and a only negligible trips would be needed for site inspections and maintenance at the substation.

The project would involve temporary lane closures for construction of the power lines. PG&E proposes scheduling of single lane closures during weekday off-peak hours and coordination of timing and route selection for heavy slow moving vehicles with the Public Works Departments of Santa Clara and San Jose. Construction of poles will occur on road shoulders to the extent possible to avoid road closures and PG&E proposes to coordinate with the Santa Clara Traffic Engineering Division to adjust traffic signal timing to accommodate and alleviate traffic congestion. Permits would be obtained from both cities for lane closures. PG&E proposes to employ traffic control measures in accordance with Santa Clara and San Jose plans (the cities adopted traffic control measures in Chapter 5 of the 1993 Caltrans Traffic Manual). With these measures, therefore, the impact on traffic conditions on local streets, including major thoroughfares, would be less than significant.

Crossing of U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 237 would require a brief (15- 20 minute) highway lane closure for installation of (and later removal of) a safety net and stringing of the lines. This would occur at two crossings of State Route 237, one crossing of U.S. Highway 101. PG&E would coordinate and obtain the assistance of the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans for these crossings. PG&E has proposed these undertakings at early morning hours with low traffic before the commute traffic begins and would comply with Chapter 5 of the 1993 Caltrans Traffic Manual. With PG&Eís proposed mitigation measures, a less than significant impact on traffic congestion would occur.

The construction of the project would not likely result in significant damage to roads. Some damage to sidewalks may occur for pole placement. PG&E has proposed to repair any damages to roads should they occur and to repair sidewalks. Given this commitment, the impact would be less than significant and additional mitigation is not required.

b) No impact related to traffic safety hazards from proposed design features would occur as no reconfiguration of existing roads would occur. Traffic safety issues related to temporary lane closures during construction would be less than significant with mitigation measures proposed by PG&E (see preceding discussion under item a). PG&E would place signage and cones in lanes requiring temporary closure. Workers would comply with appropriate safety procedures to protect themselves and the public during construction.

c) Single lane closures would be coordinated with Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, the City of San Jose and the City of Santa Clara. No impacts related to emergency access would occur. No access to hospitals or fire stations would be affected by construction of the project. PG&E will maintain access to all residences and businesses along the power line alignment. Construction of the Nortech Substation will not impede access to any residences or businesses.

d) The Nortech substation would generate no long-term parking demand as no employees would work at the site on a daily basis, maintenance workers would have access to the interior of the substation site for parking. Construction parking would be accommodated at the Nortech Substation site and at the Kifer Receiving Station and Trimble Substation. Therefore, no impact related to parking demand would occur. Construction of the Nortech Substation would remove parking areas used by the adjacent Jubilee Christian Center. Parking areas are available for the church in the immediate area; the impact would be less than significant.

e) The Nortech substation site has no pedestrian sidewalks or bicycle paths; therefore no impact would occur there. Construction in the Trimble Substation and Kifer Receiving Station would not affect pedestrian or bicycle uses in the area.

Construction of the power poles and stringing of the power lines would result in temporary closure of bicycle paths, bicycle lanes and sidewalks. ADA ramps to sidewalks also may be closed temporarily during pole construction and line stringing. PG&E proposes to maintain pedestrian and bicycle access adjacent to the construction zone and separate them from traffic. Routing of pedestrians and bicycles to the opposite side of the street through signage also would occur. As PG&E proposes limiting construction to off-peak traffic periods, the impact on pedestrians and bicyclists also would be minimal. Pedestrian and bicycle safety measures would comply with the measures implemented under the Work Area Protection and Traffic Control Manual, which would guide all construction work in the street rights-of-way. Therefore, there would be no impact related to hazards to pedestrians or bicyclists.

f) The project would not create a long-term demand for site visits; therefore, no conflict with transportation policies would occur. Construction of the power lines could temporarily displace curbside bus stops and lane closures would result in brief delays of buses. By coordinating construction activities with the cities and the transit agency, the impact would be less than significant. The Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority Stop Coordinator does not intend to temporarily relocate any bus stops and will instruct the route drivers on procedures for passenger pick-up and drop-off in the construction areas. No impact to the light rail system on North First Street or to school bus stops would occur at any time during construction. Therefore, the impact on public transportation would be less than significant; additional mitigation is not required.

g) No waterborne or air traffic is located within the project area, and the project would therefore have no effect on these modes of transportation (site visit July 17, 1998). The project is well north of, and would not affect the San Jose International Airport. The construction of the pole lines would not disrupt operation of the light rail line located on North First Street or the Southern Pacific Railroad line located along Lafayette Street. Construction of the power lines would not disrupt rail traffic at the two locations where the proposed power line would cross railroad tracks. Construction and operation of the power line would have no impact on rail facilities.

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