FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 2, 2013
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected];
In case you missed it…
Sign battle along Delta highway intensifies
By Melissa Murphy
After removing signs opposing a plan to build tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, it seems the California Department of Transportation is now targeting signs for “Scenic Highway 160.”
In a press release issued Thursday from the grassroots organization Restore the Delta, Communications Director Steve Hopcraft said the group is demanding that Caltrans “stop making war” against the Delta. Specifically, he pointed to what his group called an “unprecedented move” by Caltrans to “downgrade the Delta’s scenic highway to facilitate construction of the governor’s proposed peripheral tunnels to drain the Delta.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a plan to move more water to Southern California by way of major conveyance tunnels to be built in the Delta.
Hopcraft said Caltrans is reportedly downgrading Highway 160 through the Delta from a “scenic highway” to a “road” and removing all scenic highway signs.
Caltrans representatives said Thursday they’re looking into the situation.
The alleged removal of the signs comes on the heels of a controversy after Caltrans maintenance workers removed signs reading “Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels” from private property along the highway.
Caltrans called it a misunderstanding, insisting the signs were removed for safety reasons. Residents called it a violation of free speech.
“Let me assure you that the California Department of Transportation maintenance workers who removed signs along Highway 160 had no political motivation whatsoever,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty wrote in a letter to several state senators and Assembly members who questioned the actions of Caltrans in their own letter. “Their singular objective was traffic safety and highway maintenance. Caltrans will never seek to prevent California residents from expressing their views.”
Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla disagreed.
“Governor Brown’s administration is trying to bully the Delta into submitting to the peripheral tunnels that would destroy its farms, communities and way of life,” she said in a press release. “Since Gov.
Brown’s peripheral tunnels will turn the scenic highway into an industrial wasteland and muck-pit, disrupt farming for a decade and drain the Delta of freshwater needed for fishing, farming and boating, I guess it makes some twisted sense for Caltrans to downgrade Scenic Highway 160 and remove all signs to that effect. It won’t be scenic anymore if the peripheral tunnels are built. But we are not going to let that happen, so Caltrans shouldn’t take down the signs.”
“The sign war continues and we’re not backing down,” he said.