It didn't take long for opponents of a proposed HOV/Bus access between Norris Canyon and Interstate 680 to organize. They began right at the meeting announcing the first stage of the public process.
In fact, one opponent, Jim Gibbon, asked the presenters, "Can the community get together and form a committee to stop it? Most people don't want it."
Opponents filled the room Tuesday night during a scoping session, when the plans -- which began in 2004 -- were brought before the public for the first time. More than 50 people showed up and nearly every one of them disagreed with the plan, which would sent high occupancy vehicles and buses on and off I-680 and into the HOV lane there, avoiding the need to cross three lanes of traffic to enter or leave that lane.
"You're trying to improve access to Bishop Ranch," Gibbon said. "That's what you're doing."
The presenters, from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Caltrans and consultant group CH2M HILL, denied that was the purpose.
The portion of the meeting presenting an overview of the project was consumed by questions from the audience, which largely addressed problems. A 20-minute discussion ran an hour, as people brought up their concerns.
Several people were concerned about property values diminishing; other were concerned about the potential loss of trees, although the presenters noted that California regulations require the planting of two trees for every one cut.
Most were upset that the plan would bring increased traffic into a residential area, and nearly all said they knew nothing about the project, although the presenters noted it had been brought to San Ramon City Council and outreach meetings had been held. Cristin Hallissy from Caltrans said just three people attended.
The scoping session is to be followed by traffic studies and environmental reviews, with any eye toward public hearings about a year from now. If approved, construction could conceivably start in about five years, although only $10.2 million for the $102 million project has been set aside for the work.
Meanwhile, opponents have already exchanged email addresses in an effort to build the support they need to block the project from every taking place.