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Apply modern criteria to Ravine access

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As the Baltimore Ravine project makes its way through the review and approval process, the major issue has not become the project itself, but the location of the proposed principal access, Herdal Drive. Alternatives for the primary access route to the project were only given a cursory review in the Environmental Impact Report. The only major factors considered included earthwork, bridge construction and removal of trees. Little or no consideration was given to the safety, financial and aesthetic impact upon the existing neighborhood of the 76 homes now served by Herdal Drive. The Pacific Street alternatives to the Herdal Drive access route were dismissed as requiring longer bridge spans, the moving of more earthwork and the cutting of additional trees. From the developer’s standpoint these are valid points because of cost. But it is more than just the cost to the developer that needs to be considered. By routing the primary access route via Herdal Drive a residential street is being changed to a main arterial. In doing so the increase in traffic volume brings the associated safety issues brought about by the increase in conflicting traffic movements entering and leaving Herdal Drive. In an effort to decrease the impact of traffic noise created by the Baltimore Ravine project, 7- and 8-feet-high walls will be constructed on both sides of the westerly end of Herdal. This will give it the appearance of an oversized cattle chute. These walls could then become the canvas for graffiti artists. These adverse impacts in turn will decrease the property values of the existing homes now served by Herdal Drive. The planning commission and City Council need to base their decision in establishing primary access for the Baltimore Ravine project upon existing conditions and not follow by rote criteria of 40 or 50 years ago when the area surrounding Herdal Drive was pastureland and orchard. JAMES F. BRADY, Auburn