Caltrans Stimulus Paving Project in Laguna Beach Pollutes Air and Sea
“Oh, Mr. Caltrans: Thank you sir, may I have another?” or “Christmas in November: Thank You Santa Caltrans!”
The federally funded Obama stimulus paving project by State highway agency Caltrans in Laguna Beach constitutes cruel and unusual environmental punishment.
This fiasco of this pitiful paving effort by the ironically-named All-American Asphalt has slipped into Twilight Zone mode:
(1) First, they made residents park off PCH for over a month at night while they tore up or ground down the old pavement. The enormous grinding machine noise was deafening and earth shaking, but as the temperatures were late summer elevated, closing windows wasn’t really an option. They left pulverized bitumen powder, a highly carcinogenic key ingredient, all over our yards, cars, streets, sidewalks and embedded in our lungs. They did street sweep each morning, but not thoroughly and didn’t clean the sidewalks at all. No side streets were swept. Cars parked legally during the day got free sandblasting due to granulated asphalt pebbles bouncing about.
Moreover, PCH looked like brown fog for weeks when cars drove by, the airborne particulates causing nearby residents coughing problems. People broke out breathing masks. Bitumen is a hydrocarbon, contains sulfur and several heavy metals such as nickel, vanadium, lead, mercury, chromium and also arsenic, selenium, and other toxic elements.
(2) They didn’t pave completely curb-to-curb, kind of a quilt or patchwork pattern, left numerous car-chattering dips. Why? Who knows, they’re Caltrans. They don’t answer phone calls from peons, they’re a nation unto themselves.
(3) Right now (Monday November 2nd) they’re back, jackhammering PCH in about 20-30 places here in Victoria Beach on the inland side where they apparently buried utility access, removing what they just freshly paved! Are they digging for gold? How do you spell ineptitude? Caltrans!
Who knows why, but now they’re going backwards, so “Happy Deadline!”
(4) When it rained a few weeks ago, all of that pulverized bitumen flushed through our storm drains onto our beaches because Caltrans didn’t properly cover or place the right filter BMPs in place. That’s OUR federal tax dollars polluting OUR beaches and OUR marine life. Who needs a State Marine Reserve to protect the ocean when Caltrans can extirpate ALL species, humans included? Wonder how many surfers, skimmers, divers and beach walking locals came out black?
(5) I haven’t seen the asphalt top coat (slurry) crew we were warned about working 9 am to 3 pm, have you? Now we’re not allowed to park during the day on PCH. So basically NO parking for months on end! This isn’t rocket science, look at the guys doing it.
(6) Why is this nightmare unending, interminable, why can’t these bozos in weather only interrupted by 2-3 days of rain make a simple deadline on such a heavily-trafficked commuter zone? Didn’t Caltrans require a “Performance Bond,” a surety bond that motivates, so that every day All-American Asphalt is past their deadline they pay compensation money or penalties back? And shouldn’t we, the residents in proximity to PCH get that money for our health impacts and inconvenience?
(7) And just what mitigations, what protective measures were supposed to be in place, enforced or monitored by City Hall?
Oh, I forgot, none of our Council and staff live on PCH, so it’s out of sight, out of mind. Why isn’t our City Manager holding them accountable, or AQMD or the Water Quality Control Board (Cal/EPA)? No one is being held liable or accountable, contrary to environmental laws.
So like Oliver Twist while being punished, or being beaten and kicked by a USMC Drill Instructor, repeat after me: “Oh, Mr. Caltrans: Thank you sir, may I have another?”