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Home » Archives » March 2007 » Cattle Point Road Is Not Rocket Science

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03/22/2007: "Cattle Point Road Is Not Rocket Science"

I recently read about the impending release of a 300 page Environmental Impact Report which purports to provide details on a 2.5-8 million dollar realignment of the Cattle Point Road over Mt. Finlayson.

As a retired forester whose duties included layout and construction supervision of logging roads suitable for the high speed delivery of heavy loads of logs to the mill, I am appalled at not only the cost estimate, but also the need for 300 pages to outline the impact on the environment.

Any civil engineer worth his salt could, with little more than hand tools, a few stakes and a roll of plastic tape, mark-out a reasonable road grade sufficient for a competent dozer operator to build 5,100 feet of two lane road base in less than two weeks. Of course this is an over simplification-dressing of the fill and cut slopes and placement of base rock, ditching, drainage and surfacing takes additional time and money. We're not contemplating the construction of a logging road and since the project lies within the National Historic Park, special care must be exercised. But $2.5-8 million (that's $5.5 million in wiggle room) is absurd.

This is not rocket science! As Mt Finlayson is composed primarily of glacial moraine there is virtually no hard rock to deal with. Construction can't be that difficult. And as pointed out in another article concerning roads on Orcas Island, the contention was that safety concerns should prevail over other design factors.

Consider the safety factors associated with negotiating an 11% grade during our occasional icy periods. And once again---why has there not yet been a thoroughly explained reason for not permanently fixing the root cause of the erosion at the toe of the slope by placement of heavy rip rap. I've only been told that it's too expensive and also that if rip rap were placed below the currently eroding location, then the problem would simply crop up someplace else.

Does this argument make sense? Do waves decide to attack someplace else if rebuffed at their first choice. Cost of the rip rap option has never been quantified so far as I know. Eight million dollars would buy a lot of boulders and there would be no need to molest the hillside by scratching out another road grade.

And don't we deserve to know how much tax money has already been spent on the years and years that have gone into preparation of the EIS? Aren't there more sensible ways to spend our tax dollars?

David Price
Friday Harbor

Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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