Letter to the editor: Inyo Supervisor calls Caltrans to task

This letter was sent to Sierra Wave from Supervisor Richard Cervantes who wrote to Caltrans with his concerns.

Lone Pine
December 28, 2011
Director Tom Hallenbeck
Cal Trans District 9
500 S. Main Street
Bishop CA, 93515

Mr. Hallenbeck,
Please be advised that I can no longer support the Cal Trans Olancha-
Cartago four lane project as it stands, for the following reasons:

1. Cal Trans has disregarded the consensus of The Inyo County Board of
2. Cal Trans has disregarded the majority opinion of the residents of
Olancha – Cartago.
3. Cal Trans has ignored the Inyo County General Plan.
4. Cal Trans has disregarded the wishes of the Local Transportation
5. Cal Trans has ignored the fact that none of the other 395 communities in
Inyo County have been bypassed.
6. Cal Trans has failed to take into consideration that the route they selected
effectively kills all potential for economic growth and development along
the highway, upon which we are so dependent for our livelihood.
7. Cal Trans has failed to take into consideration negative environmental
impacts. The route they selected goes across undisturbed land creating a
killing field 115 ft. wide where wildlife will die including: deer, coyotes,
rabbits, raccoons, birds of prey, plus peoples pets.
8. Cal Trans has failed to win the trust of the community, and instead have
created an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

It is not without good reason that Caltrans is mistrusted. The Department is
currently under investigation for: Theft (CHP & NBC4) Falsifying Data,
(Sac Bee) Abuse of Power, ( Orange County Register).

Cal Trans has kept property off tax rolls draining county coffers of tens of
millions of dollars in lost revenue. By there own admission in an interview
with Gov. Arnold Schwargenegger The head of Cal Trans Director Will
Kempton said that “Cal Trans sometimes ran roughshod over communities
instead of working with them”.

Therefore; I urge Cal Trans to bow to the collective wisdom of the people,
Supervisors, and the LTC of Inyo County, and build the four lane undivided
highway as per alt.#la

As the duly elected official representing the people of the 5th District of Inyo
County, which includes Olancha – Cartago, I am saddened that my
constituents have been treated with such complete disregard.

Richard Cervantes
Supervisor 5th District
Inyo County, California

, , , , ,

42 Responses to Letter to the editor: Inyo Supervisor calls Caltrans to task

  1. jeffrey p bohl February 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    Persoanlly, I think Mr Clark is on the right track..

    .the truth is very few people actually do the work to understand the issue….I bet 90% of the people in the owens valley don’t understand the real issue here…What matters is citizens have to balance their expenses with their incomes…we have to have limits to how much we borrow..we have to limit our spending…somehow people like Eamon McNamara don’t think the government should be subject to any limits..California yesterday addmitted that they are broke!!!! They are broke ,,massive overspending and yet we are seeing poeople support a road option that makes no sense fiscally!!! it is like hey the rules don/t apply here!!!! Well to me they apply and Cal Trans does not need this road…It will double at least the costs…Caltrans always goes over budget and for what in this case to build a 8 mile superhighway???? come on..even stupid people know that they can’t spend money that they don’t have!!!! and that is the bad example that Caltrans puts in the faces of the citizens of inyo County and the Owens Valley!!!

    So who benefits from the choice to the west for the road???? Answer that question…Who loses???? What are the consequences of a state agency that can decide by their own that it is only their decision? a decision that ignores the very obvious reality that most people don’t want to the road going to the west…I challenge all you supporters to put on a public meeting that is well advertised and let’s see what happens??? Come on Mr Eamon and others like you…can’t you put your ideas to the test..Come on Caltrans..the same question for you>>>You cherry picked this with your last miinte announcement…Your option will not go forward if you cannot defend it in public!!! so show some gravitous….and announce a public meeting to discuss the issue before those against have to resort to legal action and other processes to make this decison based on the approval of the people!!!! I dare you…
    it really matters to the day to day life…that is because i believe the political economic process has morphed into a system that literally bypasses the people and comes from an elite system of special interests that lie to the people becasue they can get away with it!!

    • Big AL February 4, 2012 at 12:00 am #

      While I fee I am on the right path, I do see some truth in your comments, in that, yes the community should be informed and should speak for itself as a whole. Your comment Mr. Bohl on the 8 mile super highway doesn’t really make sense, if you want to state fact in a way people can understand all that is at stake in this issue, then stick to the facts and leave the emotional embellishing remarks out of it.
      All of the comments as such in your reply do not lend any hand in getting this resolved, except that for the call to people to come together and work it out.
      You as a lot of the others just point fingers at the state and make comments that do not help anything.
      So many comments in these posts and replies point fingers at the states neglect to gather public comment. If polled randomly, the community at large, would most likely be weighted to prove these allegations.
      Quite simply, this would be because; If you asked people did they know about any public notice, any public meetings before hand pertaining to gathering public comment on proposed projects, the consensus would be no they do not.
      This is not because the notices did not go out, were not published, the meeting did not happen, people were lied too or misinformed.
      No. the simple truth of the matter is that all of the notices and meetings did happen, I have seen the notices, I have heard people talk about the meetings, they did happen, the did happen in a timely manner.
      Everything was done, the state was bound to do these steps in gathering public comment, and to explain the projects.
      The problem is, that public input was not so forth coming in these periods of comment and discussion because of low public participation. People in some cases, did not know of it, because they don’t usually read the paper, did not hear it on the radio, did not see notices. Some people saw these notices, whether or not they attended meetings is a different story, whether or not they gave public comment is also subject speculation.
      Some people choose not to get involved in issues, some do not care either way, some do not know about issues as such.
      So it is easy to say for those apposing such issues that it was neglected to be gathered. And easy to tell people embellished half truths in some cases, and lead them to wrong choices or wrong understanding of the truth in the matter.
      Yes, people need to know the facts here, not all of the rantings appealing emotions.

  2. Big AL January 26, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Honestly, what damage will you do to this town or towns involved?
    If this town is not by passed, then the alternative to by pass is widening of the existing alignment, which as previously stated, would take so much of the adjacent land, that there wouldn’t be much left of the town, as most of the few business that remain there, will have to cease.
    As it is now, the town is basically dead as a town in regard to viable business. Two restaurants, a beef jerky retailer, and a gas station/mini mart are the make up of business in the area that is known as Olancha Cartego. There is the steel fabrication business, which employs people, it will not suffer, it does not rely on transient traffic for subsistence.
    Olancha Cartego exist mainly as a bedroom community, such as many communities exist now in the same situation, which is not directly connected to being by passed on the state and US highway system.
    The life and death of a town is directly effected by it’s ability to either preserve sustainability of industry, or its ability to find ways to create industry.
    unfortunately, Inyo county’s board of supervisors has been a major stumbling block for small towns in their endeavor to create sustainability through bringing industry to them.
    There have been some rather large opportunities to create industry and jobs, in southern Inyo county in recent times, but companies have been forced to look else where because of issues the county supervisors have brought into the negotiations that forced the businesses to cease their efforts to try to come into the county.
    As a whole, the board is jointly responsible, but individually they share some degree of responsibility for these short falls to local industry. As in anything, a vote is cast, and the majority rules, so vested interests or agendas go ahead with the objections and abstentions over ruled.
    I don’t live in that town, I know if I did, I might be feeling like the state is purposely trying to kill my town maybe? or if I knew the true facts, I might know how to feel about it with more direction.
    I do know Mr. Cervantes claims are totally unfounded and sensationalized to promote something, I can not say what his motives are, one can say he is building a platform for re election? One could say he is defending his town or his area of constituency? Only Mr. Cervantes can answer that question, but I do know, his claims are unwarranted,I do know that to be the truth.
    I do see in the comments here in these posts and replies, that some have interests and agendas behind their writings, these vary one one side or the other of this debate.
    Some stand to gain or loose by the by pass, some want to see travel through the are made safer. I do know, that over all a by pass would be safer, some argue about the actual and accrued location of accidents.
    I do know that there have been some pretty horrendous accidents within a mile or so of the center of town, that have claimed lives and injured others. Two of them that I know of, claimed lives of local Owens Valley residents.
    While a four lane by pass will not protect us from any more accidents, it will reduce the number of accidents and pretty much reduce the risk of head on accidents, and the possibility of local residents being killed or injured by such accidents within their town. So how can that be something denied?

    People should publish the true facts on such matters as this, and not bring personal agendas, bias, personal gain, unsubstantiated facts, lies and rantings to them as with anything, I think it is so much of a shame, that people act in ways as such. .. But that seems to be the world’s way and it seems now days there is so much less accountability and professionalism. I applaud those who stand up for the truth in this thread.

    Glenn Clark

    • Sean January 30, 2012 at 10:35 pm #


      The BYPASS wasn’t a very hard decision for Caltrans in Sucramento.

      If it was business as usual and Caltrans was working on a normal Transportation Budget, Olancha would have got run over.

      The bigger the Funding needed for the project, the greater the liklihood of it passing with flying colors.


      Stop using your brain to make sense of the project. It’s all about ARRA $$$$$ and pretend jobs.

      The bypass provides the most phantom jobs and the FEDS love it.

      • Sean January 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

        I disagree Mr. Clark

        Politiks is a tough business and it takes some time to get the hang of it. I truly believe Mr. Cervantes is ready to make his mark in Inyo County as he promised during his first election.

        Hopefully, everybody will back him and give him the opportunity. His heart is in the right place, but he needs EVERYONES support.

        Good Luck!

      • Big AL January 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

        You just further proved my point about your rantings. you said all.

      • Eamon McNamara February 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

        ….and you were the one who rented your motel in Independence to Skanska for ~$5000 a month during the Four Lane project in Independence….looks like ARRA gave you a lot of money.

        • Big AL February 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

          Oh I remember that, that was the Skanska company’s headquarters for that construction project, they were there for like a year. that netted a good amount of profit for that owner.
          That project did not involve a bypass though, it was a four lane project that removed a large portion of the remaining two lane conventional highway, in which there were some high concentrations of accidents, which is the ultimate goal of four lane projects. That and improving mobility throughout California and the federal highway system.

          It seems that a project that does not involve a by pass is OK in everyone’s eyes, not just the transient traffic, but rather the people of the towns within the valley.
          That’s interesting.
          So when it comes to making that happen with by passing any given town to expedite safety and mobility, then the state is a horrible condescending government agency, that brings forth this great malady to the community. It just imposes it’s project wrongfully and deceitfully on everyone.

          On the other hand, when a new addition of the divided four lane involves sections of the highway outside of the effected towns, it is totally a different matter, now it is OK to do so, it does not effect a town, suddenly, there is now deceit, no condescension, no lying on the states behalf. People are happy for it, because it removes dangerous sections of highway that have claimed so many lives and have slowed the free movement of traffic to and from the communities and through the valley.

          It seems like there is a lot of effort being put into slandering and defamatory comments to compensate for truthfulness and facts. This effort is being made by some individuals who claim to speak for the community at large.

  3. Wayne Deja January 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    When you think much about it,this is a hard one to decide on..The people of Olancha and Cartago should have a say into what happens to their towns,but on the other hand,I can’t help but think safety for all that travel the highway should be considered too….The 4 lane through town will probably bring about a 65 MPH speed limit,which means 75 or 80 to the SoCal drivers in a hurry to get to Mammoth,which is WAY too fast where there is people walking in town,pulling onto the the highway from their residences’,cattle getting onto the street,etc.The 4 lane built farther north has cut traffic accidents way down,but this is through a town,and a lot different.Vehicles turning left into the Ranch Cafe waiting on southbound traffic,or ,big-rig trucks pulling into or out of Crystal Geyser will be big problems.And big bad accidents waiting to happen.

    • Big AL January 26, 2012 at 1:17 am #

      Yes good post Wayne, I like how your thoughts consider both sides with the bottom line truth of the matter. not all of the rantings and accusations.

  4. Benett Kessler January 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Having covered Caltrans news in just about all of the Eastern Sierra towns, we have found one thing to be true – Caltrans manages to anger citizens wherever it goes. Of course, people are sensitive about their own property and towns, but there are ways to honor local folks and the traveling public. Good human relations go a long way. Perhaps if Caltrans hired a professional good person to analyze situations and find ways to include local views in a real way, issues might work out better.

    In each town, we have heard the same complaint – Caltrans doesn’t listen to us and they don’t care. Instead of coming to town with a “we’re going to get your property and your livelihoods and we don’t care” attitude, why not try a compassionate view toward those who actually live here? The traveling public will get where it wants to go in about the same time one way or the other. Certainly safety is the major issue. Perhaps the Caltrans bureaucrats are kind of afraid of the public and don’t really know how to relate to them. Of course, they have a job to do, but they need to deal with the public as if they were neighbors and explain things carefully and in detail.

    And, the state should not have a private agenda. The highways belong to the people, and the people who make the 395 corridor their homes need extra consideration. There is no situation that justifies harmful treatment. Real communication might help.

    Yes, I have personally gone through the highway widening in Independence where my property was impacted. The inside of the process shows a great deal of pain and bewilderment on the part of the public. There has to be a better way. Maybe Dr. Phil could figure it out.

    Benett Kessler

    • Big AL January 26, 2012 at 1:13 am #

      You’re blowing it too Bennet, again .. biased opinon on your part.

      • Benett Kessler January 26, 2012 at 8:47 am #

        Yes. It’s a personal opinion based on experience as a reporter and a home owner.

        • Big AL January 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

          OK I’ll give ya the personal opinion as a home owner. I have watched the battles people put up with the state over all of the big construction jobs. I have seen the mud slung at the state, and how people hate it, Say a lot of slanderous things against it and the people who work for the state as well, how horrible they all must be, stealing, killing and destroying. Oh yeah and lying and cheating.
          How can it be that people that live in glass houses can afford to throw stones as such?
          I see that there are certain individuals within the communities that do all of the crowing, slandering, and excite people’s emotions to further their agendas. They use their positions of authority and celebrity to bring forth accusations built on lies and half truths to get people to believe in these lies and believe the half truths.
          A lot of the letters as such that are in this thread are fraught with the sort of lies and hate that works like cancer to destroy good things.
          All because of personal interest, vested interest, all brought forth by greed. And is hidden behind fear.
          The fear spread by those who will incite the people. Perhaps there could be the voices of reason from the glass houses, some that honor the truth, and who can lead people in that truth, rather than incite them to follow in their deceit.

  5. charlesojones January 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    I respect the feelings of those who live in the Olancha area and don’t want their community bypassed. But this is a State Highway, and as such, it should not be built solely to suit the opiinons of the local residents.

    I travel this section of the 395 fairly regularly. I would consider this stretch of highway as one of the most dangerous sections between the Hwy 14 and Bishop. This is why I supported the bypass option.

  6. Dirtbag January 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    If Olancha had any potential for economic development along the highway, it would have been realized by now. Instead, the few businesses that were located there have been closed for a long time, except the Ranch House Cafe and the Gas Station south of 190 and Gus’s Jerky of course.

    • Big AL January 26, 2012 at 1:11 am #

      Yes Dirtbag, I agree.

  7. Susan January 23, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I live in Cartago and own a large property. I have no desire to develop this propery, but perhaps my children or grandchildren will. Mr. Palamar and I own some of the only land in southern Inyo County that would be attractive to future development, so yes, we have a vested interest in where the highway ends up. But more importantly, I don’t want to see any growth potential wiped out just so it is easier for CalTrans to build their highway.

    I could just set back and not be involved since CalTrans decided not to build the highway through the middle of my property cutting off all access to my home and access to parts of the property – but that is not the RIGHT thing to do.

    Mr. Cervantes brought up many valid points in his letter. I agree with others that their research and statistics are outdated and flawed. Until we informed CalTrans at a meeting of where we lived, they were unaware our property had a home, horses, dogs, people, and fences and we had been there for 5 years! They had it down as vacant property.

    I thank Mr. Cervantes, the Inyo Supervisors and the LT Commissioners for listening and trying to assist us in this battle. We will continue to fight. I urge residents to contact Jean fuller, Connie Conway and Govenor Brown and ask them to rein in CalTrans so they will stop running roughshod over the people of California.

    • Eamon January 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      The new route is going to take very little private property, it’s mostly on BLM public land…..200 vocal residents don’t constitute a majority, the majority of users of 395 expressed their desire for the alternative selected in the survey sent out years ago…..did you take the survey?
      And you should have been aware of what and where you purchased your land YOU KNEW Caltrans had plans to four-lane 395 through Inyo County.

  8. Steve Reese January 23, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    I for one want Olancha bypassed. It is the safest way and will save lives. It may even save your’s or someone you love.

    Travelers along Hwy 395 don’t want to stop or slow down in Olancha and if they do they can pull off the express way and enjoy Olancha with out all the traffic.

    The same folks that want the Hwy to stay where it is would be the first to sue CalTrans if someone they loved was killed by the cars and trucks that they them selves kept in Olancha.

    Please fight to protect the ones you love.

  9. Sean January 21, 2012 at 11:02 pm #


    Never let Caltrans block a Casino Entrance ever again.

    District 9 has always denied LOCAL Preference as Injust and illegal. FAR FROM IT IS THE TRUTH. INYO QUALIFIES FOR PREFERENCE AND SHOULD DEMAND IT.

    • Eamon McNamara January 24, 2012 at 12:11 am #

      The link you post has to do with hiring Native Americans on projects on tribal lands it has nothing to do with blocking a casino entrance….or I must be mistaken, is this about blocking an entrance to a motel that was never opened on the south side of Independence that was coincidentally owned by a gentleman named “Sean” too?

  10. JeniferCastaneda January 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    CalTrans decision to bypass Olancha is ridiculous.

    The residents, the business owners and the Board of Supervisors all stated their preference to be Alt #1, widen the existing corridor. The County has a stated goal and policy of “No Bypass”. The cost to taxpayers of building a new 4 lane hwy far exceeds adding 2 lanes to the current hwy. Likewise it is obvious that the environmental impacts would be far greater, not to mention they want this new hwy to be built west of the homes and in the view shed of the Sierra. The County will face more cost in taking over the maintenance of portions of the old 395 and receive less property tax revenue due to resulting lowered commercial property values. This recent decision ignores the sentiments of the people, is far more expensive and has greater environmental impacts. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

    • Eamon January 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      You’re wrong….the cost is virtually the same for all alternatives.
      The State is NOT required to comply with a General Plan governing County property, most of the alignment is on BLM land and their RMP doesn’t preclude this type of project.
      The viewshed according to the BLM’s RMP is the lowest level in Olancha and Cartago, meaning it has no viewshed value and is considered impacted by existing development.
      The human environmental cost of building four lanes through town will be greatly significant….lowered property values due to a freeway going through the middle of town. Huge swaths of property will be impacted by Caltrans’ purchasing private property for a wider freeway. Limited access of the residents to 395.
      This decision is absolutely the RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT one.

  11. jeffrey p bohl January 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Congradulations to Mr Cervantes!!!!! He is showing true leadership that is special to the people of Olancha, Cartago, the Owens Valley, the state of California. I believe it is important for the citizens to get informed on this issue and understand why building the road along the existing coridor is by far the best use of taxpayer money, best for the local businesses, most environmentally sensible. Caltrans must learn that they have to live by the same rules as the people…

    I do not have time right now to go into a long desertation..I will be putting together a paper that educates the public on the realities of alternative 3.5 or the “Haleenbeck option” and why this option should be rejected…Let me just say, Caltrans has NOT EVEN GIVEN THE PUBLIC AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS THIS ISSUE IN A PUBLIC FORUM..

    After 11 years of public meetings and representations of 5 different options..Caltrans at the last minite, chose to insist on a option that was never reviewed by the public…for this reason alone, Caltrans should have the obligation to announce a major public event where all sides can meet to go over this decision..This is how democracy is supposed to work…If it is true that the Hallenbeck option is the best, caltrans should not have a problem presenting their case to the citizens of Olancha, Cartago, and the Owens valley!!!!

    So let’s get with it Caltrans!!!! We are not stupid!! We will not be ignored!!! Educate the people and make us understand!!! Proponents of Option 1 will do the same!!!

    I will be providing much more information on what we can do as citizens to force this disclosure soon…We need to have this debate!!!

  12. Ken Warner January 21, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Like I said before — move Olancha back West and leave 395 where it is and widen it in place. It will be cheaper and less damaging to the existing environment and the people who live in the area will have a nicer place to live.

    But what do I know?

  13. John R. January 21, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Wow, check out the grammar in that letter, needs work!

  14. Sean January 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    Caltrans District 9 is pathetic.

    District 9 is so retarded, District 7 has to do their Environmental Studies for them.

    Mr. Cervantes does not have all the facts because the Environmental Docoments he needs to assess the situation were illegally processed as District 7 documents. I.e. They circumvent the required public involvement because Inyo County was not informed as required.

    Call District 7 and ask if they have processed any documents for the Olancha/Cartago project? Ask for Juergen Vesperman and see what he says.

    Request the IT lead study for the Independence project that nullified the mitigation for the Hazardous Waste within the town. Caltrans will tell you a new study was done utilizing the DIWET Formula and it was determined safe. Independence was duped because the study was done by morons or corrupt Caltrans employee’s. The study Caltrans cites for loss of the mandatory mitigation for HAZARDOUS WASTE and a Dust plan was not done correctly.

    The numbers are falsified and the study reliability indicator says it cannot be used and the data is not correct. Caltrans intentionally falsified the study and put all Independence citizens at risk, especially young children. Lead is very dangerous and every citizen that lived through the construction should sue.

    Construction within Independence was supposed to be done in less than 6 weeks and have a detailed dust management plan. The town was ripped open and nasty toxic hazardous waste dust was freely blowing through town for over 9 months. There were a few 60+ mile an hour gusts and the dirt blew around town daily for over 9 months. Caltrans could have at least covered the hazardous waste dirt, finished the work and buried the dirt or numerous other alternatives that would have protected the citizens.

    Yeah right! Caltrans potentially spread cancer and numerous mental health problems through the community and pretended to be DWP. Caltrans laughed and still thinks it’s funny.

    Cervantes should be ashamed for rubber stamping the project. Mr. Fortney talked a big game about Eminent Domain during his campaign. I would like to know what his position is on this project. Access was intentionally and knowingly taken from all residents with abutters rights in Independence without proper payment per The Uniform Act. Caltrans shoved it up Independences *** and the Inyo Supes rubber stamped it for a pathetic Transportation Museum Project that has 100 photo’s scanned on the web. Hooray! It took 10 minutes to go through and will bring ZERO Tourists as promised. Nice job Inyo Supes. At least get a couple $$$ when you sell out.

    Don’t bother calling Director Hallenbeck about the problems. Ms. Escallier is the ROW Supervisor who I believe steals property without paying. You should call her.

    My grammar is poor, but my facts are 100%.

    • Dirtbag January 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      How and why was the dirt hazardous?

    • Eamon McNamara January 24, 2012 at 12:04 am #

      Sean, oh so many fallacies in your post….you must be the gentleman who use to own the motel in south Independence on 395 who expected Caltrans (the taxpayers) to pay you a million dollars for your motel that you originally bought for ~$300K? And then after writing all the slanderous posts on any forum you could find you turned around and rented that same motel to Skanska (the company who built the four lane project) as their office?
      I read the studies, I was at the public meetings for that project, you however were a newcomer to the area and have since left…..don’t you actually reside in Southern California?
      The “cancer causing” dust? From where? Where are your studies to support that? I know that Great Basin APCD gave Skanska their permit and there were no violations. I know Lahontan Water Board, and Fish and Game gave them permits and 4 years after construction is complete you come up with these unsubstantiated claims…..you, sir make no sense. Additionally, an environmental document can be written on Mars so long as it complies with California law, so your arguement is again flawed on that point. The taxpayers paid you handsomely. But reality is you bought you hotel well after the Environmental document was finished and you saw an opportunity to cash in on a mistake you made by buying a hotel in an “up” real estate market only to see your investment fall, not because of Caltrans but because of a poor market and you actually made a great deal of money by renting your hotel to Skanska for over a year.

    • Big AL January 26, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      You’re totally blowing it Sean, your letter is not true, anyone with any sort of intelligence can see right through your rantings, I see only incorrect accusations.

  15. Eamon McNamara January 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    It’s unfortunately that Mr. Cervantes’ letter is so fraught with misleading and incorrect information, for example Mr. Cervantes can’t even spell Mr. Hallenbeck’s name correctly! How can anyone trust the remaining specious arguments he has?

    Caltrans’ surveyed the majority of users of 395 3-4 years ago through mailings to Mammoth Mountain passholders as well as having surveys available through their website, the resounding majority of respondents wanted an alternative similar to the one selected. So “bowing to the collective wisdom of the people” is what Caltrans is doing, a small and vocal minority doesn’t constitute a “collective majority”.

    Caltrans isn’t required to comply with a General Plan that governs County property- most of the current alternative is on public, BLM land and their Resource Management Plan (RMP) doesn’t preclude this type of project.

    An alternative that goes through the center of Cartago and Olancha will have to be so wide that it will take out the majority of those communities and make them unlivable.

    This supposed “killing field” -all the animals you list aren’t threatened or endangered and those animals are already being killed along the highway anyway- been to Mono County recently?

    Mr. Cervantes has an election coming up and has to appear concerned for his constituents. This alternative is by far the best for the people of Inyo County and the State as a whole and whether he supports it or not California does.

    • scott palamar January 21, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      What is your vested interest in this matter, Eamon McNamara, that you defend Caltrans with low hanging fruit- the opinion of Mammoth skiers racing from the suburbs to the slopes? Don’t you imagine they’d also vote to bypass the entire Inland Empire and all the settlements in Owens Valley?

      There is a fallacy in anyone’s belief that an Olancha bypass will get them to the McDonald’s in Lone Pine a second quicker:

      According to Caltrans, a bypass will add ‘about a mile’ to the current length of I-395. A 2010 Caltrans survey confirms that motorists average the maximum highway speed of 65mph through Olancha, despite a posted 55mph limit. Therefore, a bypass will ADD about a minute to a trip through Owens Valley!

      Further, using EPA figures and Caltrans statistics, a 1-mile elongation of I-395 will add over 2-1/2 million pounds of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere per year, due to vehicles burning at least 125,000 extra gallons of fuel!

      There are so many reasons a bypass would be devastating to the community and the environment that it is difficult not to sense a conspiracy behind Hallenbeck’s Plan. Just last week, the Local Transportation Commission backpedaled on their resolution to tell Caltrans they did not want a bypass around Olancha, after Hallenbeck personally met with two more malleable Commissioners.

      Supervisor Cervantes is a rare honest representative who champions the best interests of the people. Sadly, there are powers operating in this county who routinely force their wills upon us regardless of his efforts.

      • Tourbillon January 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

        There are many issues on both sides of this, but one I haven’t seen mentioned is safety. Any time a major artery is changed from two lane head-on traffic to a divided highway (assuming that’s what the bypass is proposed to be), it becomes inherently safer. Question is, is the increased safety in this case only marginal at best?

        So from CalTrans, I’d like to know: how many accidents involving serious injury or death have occurred in the past five years along the stretch of road sought to be bypassed?

        • Benett Kessler January 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm #


          In November, I posted this info from Caltrans:

          Caltrans’ Cedric Zemitis told us that from January of 1999 through December of 2008 135 accidents occurred in the Olancha area with 16 fatalities and 121 injuries.

          • scott palamar January 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

            From the minutes of the December Local Transportation Commission meeting: “Marty Fortney feels that the safety reports in the environmental document are inaccurate in that all the accidents did not occur where the bypass is proposed.” [www.inyoltc.org/minutes/1211.pdf]

            Inyo Supervisor-LT Commissioner Fortney pointed out that the vast majority of the accidents, while technically within the project boundaries, occurred around the northerly two-lane passing zones (e.g. Willow Dip) and the 2-lane to 4-lane transition at the south. ANY4-lane solution will cure these safety issues.

            Also, the proposed bypass will leave ‘old’ 395 in place (as an extension to highway 190 and feeder road for Crystal Geyser trucks), so there would then be two major highways and their associated risks sandwiching Olancha.

            The Hallenbeck bypass offers little benefit to anyone except Caltrans apparently, and may cost upwards of $40 million more than a simple widening-in-place by the time it is built.

          • Susan January 23, 2012 at 10:48 am #

            These accidents did occur, however, almost all of them were at the extreme south end where the 4 lane ends or at the extreme north end near Willow Dip where CalTrans has chosen to mark the two lane for passing on a hill before a curve. They only play the safety card when it suits them. If you talk to the emergency services people in the area they will tell you that they respond to more accidents on the 4 lane than through Olancha and Cartago.

      • Eamon McNamara January 22, 2012 at 8:55 am #

        Oh I forgot, Mr. Palomar, you’re the one with a vested interest…..aren’t you the one who owns a huge parcel of property in Cartago that you’re trying to subdivide into 40+ home site?……looks to me like your only concern is selling lots and I for one WOULDN’T want a home site on a freeway.

        • scott palamar January 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

          Mr McNamara: You spelled my name incorrectly, which of course I would never mention if you hadn’t tried and convicted Supervisor Cervantes for the same offense!

          I do own property in Cartago and Olancha, though not what you describe.I am happy to state I have a vested interest in the 4-Lane Project!

          My interest is in the community and the environment, which is why I support the non-bypass solution. The truth is that the Alt. 4 bypass would improve my property value in Cartago because the highway would be pushed further west, but I do not support it.

          I asked you what your vested interest is and you have chosen not to answer. You have, however, chosen to make flippant comments and undermine the efforts of people who care about doing the right thing.

          I am through responding to your diatribe from here on out….

          • Eamon January 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

            The “Right thing to do” is the “will” of thousands of respondents to Caltrans’ surveys 5 years- the “preferred alternative” the combination of Alt 3 and Alt 4.

          • Eamon McNamara January 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

            Of course you’re done responding to my “diatribe;” logical arguments, facts, and figures always deflate the opinions of those whom base their stance on emotional appeals…..the citizens of the villages of Olancha and Cartago only have emotional arguments and unfortunately that doesn’t win in the forum of taxpayers spending million of dollars in a community that only constitutes less than 1% of the County’s total population…..Olancha/Cartago should be glad that Caltrans wants to spend over $100 million there, we would love it if they spent that kind of money in Bishop, and that’s where the office is located!

    • Big AL January 26, 2012 at 1:54 am #

      Good post! I like your facts.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.