This initial study/mitigated negative declaration (IS/MND) has been prepared for the purpose of analyzing the potential physical environmental effects of the proposal by Williams Communications, Inc. (Williams) to install a network of fiber optic telecommunications cable and related facilities in California. The proposed project is analyzed at two levels in this IS/MND. The general characteristics of the proposed project and potential effects common to the project routes are examined at a projectwide level. The route-specific environmental settings and potential effects are examined at a route-specific level. Mitigation measures for potentially significant effects are identified at both levels. Two keynotes to this approach are Williams' commitment to avoidance of impacts through project design and adoption of constraints-driven mitigation measures as part of the proposed project.

In addition to meeting the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC's) rules for such assessments, the IS/MND has been prepared in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Res. Code Section 21000 et seq.) and the updated State CEQA Guidelines (Title 14, Chapter 3, Section 15000, et seq., California Code of Regulations) to meet the requirements for a mitigated negative declaration.

The IS/MND concludes that, given the construction approach, design elements, and mitigation built into the proposed project and the mitigation measures included herein, no significant effect on the environment will occur and no substantial evidence exists in light of the whole record that the proposed project may have a significant effect on the environment.


As detailed in Chapter 2 of this IS/MND, Williams proposes to install and operate a fiber optic cable communications network throughout California to provide facilities-based and resold 24-hour InterLATA and IntraLATA interexchange services. Williams is applying to the CPUC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) authorizing Williams to install a fiber optic cable network , including necessary related facilities, within the state.

Williams proposes to install small-diameter (less than 2 inches outside diameter), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) conduits carrying fiber optic cables primarily within existing, disturbed rights-of-way (i.e., pipelines, utility corridors, roads, or railroads) over several linear routes across California. Approximately 99 percent of the work would be conducted inside existing disturbed rights-of-way within idle pipelines or utility ducts, or buried through use of plowing or trenching techniques. In addition to the fiber optic cable, a series of regenerator and optical amplification (OP-AMP) stations will be installed at intervals along the routes to boost transmission signals. Where practical, the stations would be located within existing utility substations or other existing facilities.

The following project routes and related facilities comprise the proposed project analyzed in this IS/MND. Specific descriptions of the routes and facilities are provided in Chapter 3. The routes are:

Several standard construction methods would be used to install the conduit and cable along these routes. Chapter 2 contains a detailed description of these methods. The particular methods to be used along the project routes, as well as any deviations from the general descriptions, are discussed in Chapter 3. Williams has prioritized its preferred installation methods as follows:

Plowing requires use of a tracked vehicle with a cable reel on the front and a plow blade on the back. The plow furrows the soil and installs the cable at the same time. In some instances, the soil may be pre-ripped by a tractor in front of the plow. Trenching typically involves use of a rubber-tired backhoe or an excavator to dig a 1-foot-wide by 4-foot-deep trench. After the cable is installed in the trench, the trench is backfilled and restored. Additionally, at sensitive streams (i.e., streams supporting sensitive plant, animal, or fish species or critical habitat) with flowing water, or where necessary to avoid sensitive resources such as wetlands, threatened and endangered species, sensitive plant populations, cultural or paleontological resources, rerouting, guided or directional boring, bridge attachments (if available) will be used. Boring will also be used in some instances to cross rivers and to cross major roads in order to minimize traffic disruptions. Geographical, topographical, and resource avoidance considerations or availability of rights-of-way will generally require using a combination of two or more of these methods for installation along each of the project routes. The particular methods to be used along the project routes, as well as any deviations from the general descriptions, are discussed in Chapter 3.

Williams' primary approach to implementation of the proposed project is avoidance of impacts. As described more fully in Chapter 2, the proposed project incorporates mitigation by Williams to avoid or reduce possible environmental impacts to less-than-significant levels into project design and construction approach. The commitments include development and implementation of reclamation plans, fire prevention and management plans, and storm water pollution prevention plans (including erosion control and spill prevention countermeasures) for each project route, as necessary. Wetlands, rivers and streams, sensitive habitats, cultural resources, and other environmentally sensitive areas will be avoided during installation of the conduit and cable and siting of the regenerator/OP-AMP stations through rerouting, boring, or bridge attachment where available. Specific mitigation measures have also been identified in this IS/MND and adopted by Williams to avoid or reduce the impacts of the proposed project to less-than-significant levels. These measures are described in Chapter 5.


Following is a brief description of the general location of the proposed project routes, including a table showing mileage for each route by right-of-way location (Table S-1). Detailed information is provided in Chapters 3 and 4.

Table S-1. Mileage of the Project Routes by Right-of-Way Location

Route Description

Total Miles
Local Road State Highway Railroad Utility/ Pipeline New Road Private Property
Point Arena to Sacramento 177.8 82.3 95.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Sacramento to California/Nevada Border 126.6 49.3 1.0 62.0 0.0 0.0 14.3
San Francisco to Santa Clara 48.0 48.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Pittsburg to Sacramento 74.8 45.9 7.0 15.6 6.3 0.0 0.0
San Luis Obispo to Bakersfield 141.1 14.0 0.0 25.3 101.8 0.0 0.0
San Luis Obispo to Los Osos Loop
Northern Route 14.2 14.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Southern Route 12.2 12.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Riverside to California/Arizona Border 196.1 5.4 0.0 0.9 189.8 0.0 0.0
Los Angeles to Riverside 66.6 12.0 0.0 51.5 3.1 0.0 0.0
Los Angeles to Anaheim 23.6 2.5 0.0 21.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 881.0 285.8 103.5 176.4 301.0 0.0 14.3

Point Arena to Sacramento

The project route would connect the AT&T Japan cable landing near Point Arena in Mendocino County with the community of Robbins, primarily following state, county, and private road rights-of-way. Sacramento, the urban center nearest to Robbins, was used in the project title because of the recognition factor for readers. The project route would be located predominantly in state highway and county road rights-of-way and would pass through private lands and federal lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) Ukiah Field Office. It would cross Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, Yolo, and Sutter counties and the communities of Manchester, Point Arena, Yorkville, Highland Springs, Lower Lake, Clearlake, Brooks, Capay, Knights Landing, and Robbins. Five OP-AMP stations would be located on private property outside existing rights-of-way.

California/Nevada Border to Sacramento

The route would generally follow the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from the California/Nevada border to Hirschdale, east of Truckee in Nevada County. From Hirschdale to Colfax, the route would be located primarily in the rights-of-way of existing state roads, local roads, or an AT&T corridor. At Colfax, the route would reenter the railroad right-of-way and follow it into downtown Sacramento.

The route traverses the Sierra Nevada range, passing through the Tahoe National Forest and other rural forest lands, as well as the small communities of Hirschdale and Colfax. Once in the Sacramento Valley, it passes through rural residential areas to the east of Sacramento before entering the urbanized Sacramento area. Three OP-AMP stations would be located on private property outside existing rights-of-way.

San Francisco to Santa Clara

This route begins in San Francisco and travels through an existing Pacific Bell duct to the intersection with the BART system in Daly City. From this point the route travels south along local street rights-of-way to an out of service pipeline located in the City of Brisbane. The route continues in the pipeline to the City of San Bruno where it moves back to local streets. The route follows local streets and El Camino Real (State Highway 82) to its terminus in Santa Clara, crossing through the following communities: San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale.

This eastern portion of the San Francisco Peninsula is heavily urbanized. The route passes through commercial, industrial, and some residential areas. Land uses along El Camino Real are primarily commercial in nature. No regenerator/OP-AMP stations would be constructed.

Pittsburg to Sacramento

The project route would begin at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District's (BART's) Bay Hill station in the City of Pittsburg (Contra Costa County). Between Pittsburg and the Antioch Bridge, the route would be located within Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way. Small segments of county roads would be used between the BART station and the railroad right-of-way and between the eastern end of the UPRR right-of-way and the Antioch Bridge. The route would cross the Antioch Bridge (the conduit would be attached to the bridge) and would continue in California Department of Transportation right-of-way for approximately 4 miles. The route would turn northwest within an existing Pacific Gas and Electronic Company (PG&E) transmission line right-of-way and would cross under the Sacramento River between two PG&E pipelines.

On the north side of the Sacramento River, the route would continue within city and county road rights-of-way, ending along Chiles Road, 2 miles east of Mace Boulevard in the City of Davis. The route would cross under I-80 between Chiles Road and the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way to the north within an existing PG&E transmission line right-of-way. After crossing I-80, the route would follow the railroad right-of-way to the City of West Sacramento. At this point, the route would join an existing Pacific Bell duct and would continue under the Sacramento River and into the City of Sacramento. New duct would be constructed for a short segment along J and 7th streets.

The route would be situated within a variety of land uses, originating in the relatively urbanized area of Contra Costa County. From Pittsburg to Antioch, the route would cross mixed residential, commercial, and industrial areas. From Antioch to Davis, the route would be located in a rural setting, mostly in agricultural use and with very few nearby residences. The route through the City of Davis would be primarily urban. From Davis to West Sacramento, the setting would be agricultural. Once in West Sacramento, the route would again be located in a highly urbanized area. Two OP-AMP stations would be constructed on private property outside existing rights-of-way.

San Luis Obispo to Bakersfield

The project route would follow local roads and existing Pacific Bell ducts from central San Luis Obispo along the western side of U.S. Highway 101 to the intersection the Union Pacific Railroad near Cuesta Springs Road. The route would continue in the railroad right-of-way north to the City of Atascadero where it would connect to an idle Chevron pipeline for the remainder of the route into Bakersfield.

The western segment of the route near San Luis Obispo and Atascadero would be located in the Santa Lucia Range, and the eastern segment would be located on flatter terrain in Kern County. Three OP-AMP stations would be constructed: two within existing rights-of-way and one on private property outside existing rights-of-way.

San Luis Obispo to Los Osos Loop

Two routes would provide a diverse connection between the proposed AT&T China cable landing site in the town of Los Osos (northern route) and the San Luis Obispo County facility in San Luis Obispo (southern route). Both routes generally would cross urban and industrial areas in the portions of the routes east of U.S. 101 and would be located adjacent to agricultural and grazing land along Los Osos Valley Road. No regenerator/OP-AMP stations would be constructed.

California/Arizona Border to Riverside

This route would begin at the California/Arizona border near Yuma, Arizona and run west to a location in Riverside. The route would cross desert from the California/Arizona border to the northern edge of the Imperial Valley near Niland (Imperial County). From this agricultural valley, it again would traverse west across desert areas to the Coachella Valley in eastern Riverside County, where it would pass through agricultural and urban lands. Grass and scrub lands dominate where the route would cross San Gorgonio Pass. The route would become increasingly urban as it passes through the cities of Banning and Beaumont, with small rural breaks. Within San Timeteo Canyon, the route would pass through scrub lands and rural residential areas. After exiting the canyon, the route would pass through urban and agricultural areas and into downtown Riverside. One regenerator station and four OP-AMP stations would be constructed on private property outside existing rights-of-way.

Los Angeles to Riverside

The proposed project route would begin in the City of Riverside and would end in downtown Los Angeles. Most of this route would be built within a Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way. From downtown Riverside, the route would travel through local road rights-of-way and the KMEP pipeline for approximately 15 miles until entering the railroad right-of-way and continuing west to Los Angeles.

The railroad right-of-way would travel west through several cities, including Ontario, Pomona, and La Puente. After crossing the San Gabriel River, the route would continue through the City of El Monte, cross the Rio Hondo channel, and continue through the cities of San Gabriel and Alhambra. Within the City of Alhambra, the rail line goes below grade into a trench that extends for 2 to 3 miles. At this point, the route would continue within adjacent road rights-of-way along Mission Road. Once the rail line returns to a surface grade, the route would again be placed within the UPRR right-of-way and continue into downtown Los Angeles where the cable would either be installed in existing conduit or trenched or bored city streets.

Most of this project route would be located within the urbanized Los Angeles metropolitan area. It would pass through industrial, commercial, and residential areas. One OP-AMP station would be constructed on private property outside existing rights-of-way.

Los Angeles to Anaheim

The project route would begin within the urbanized Los Angeles metropolitan area and would continue, by way of an existing conduit or by means of trenching or boring, across the Los Angeles River, and enter the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way northwest of the Pomona and Santa Monica freeway interchange. Once in railroad rights-of-way, the corridor would continue south through the communities of Vernon and Maywood, under Interstate 710 and the Rio Hondo channel, through the City of Downey, under Interstate 605, and continue parallel to I-5 through the cities of Norwalk, Cerritos, and Buena Park before entering the City of Anaheim. In Anaheim, the route would leave the railroad right-of-way and continue for a distance under local roads. No regenerator/OP-AMP stations would be constructed.


The proposed project has been designed by Williams, based on biological and cultural resources constraints and opportunities information, to avoid significant environmental impacts through site design and construction approach or to reduce such effects to less-than-significant levels through the application of additional mitigation measures. The proposed project incorporates construction methods (e.g., installation in idle natural gas pipelines and other utility ducts) and practices (e.g., storm water pollution prevention plans, reclamation plans) that would either avoid or minimize its physical impacts. Williams has also committed to additional mitigation measures to ensure there would be no significant environmental effects resulting from the proposed project. These mitigation measures are discussed in detail in Chapter 5 and summarized in Table S-2.


The proposed project would serve the expanding telecommunications market in California, nationally and internationally. The contribution of this project to California's projected population growth would be negligible because it is not a primary factor in selecting whether to move to California and because much of the growth is independent of the availability of fiber optic capacity.

California is growing at a rapid pace, with annual population increases projected to average approximately 1.6% over the next 10 years. At least half of the projected population increase would be from births to existing residents. (California Department of Finance 1998.) Potential residents consider a variety of factors when deciding to move to California, including job availability, salaries, relative housing cost, quality of schools, commuting distance, and recreational opportunities. As population increases, so will the demand for telecommunications. Stand-alone fiber optic cable is one means of meeting this demand. Others are wireless technology and expanding the capacity of existing telephone lines.


The impacts of the proposed project would be negligible or less than significant. As discussed in Chapter 5, through compliance with standards established for environmental protection and incorporation of project elements and mitigation measures designed to primarily avoid or reduce impacts below the level of significance, the proposed project would not make a cumulatively considerable contribution to any significant cumulative impact.

To download a copy of Table S-2. Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures click here.

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