|Mar 17, 2015| Friday 9:45 am
Traffic is the most visible symptom of the development boom that is happening in Napa County and is often mistaken as THE problem. Some people at planning commission meetings relate stories of 1 hr commutes from Napa to Calistoga and 20 minute waits to make a left turn on to the Trail. Though disputed by traffic studies, people describe how much worst the traffic has become in the last few years. It is an issue that cuts across all of the county's interest groups. At the May 2014 joint BOS-PC meeting which kicked off the review we are now involved in, Rob Mondavi, fierce proponent of a tourist based economy, lamented the trouble he had getting out onto the Trail from his house.
Many concerned over the increased congestion have focused the blame for the increased traffic on to the ever-expanding tourism economy. The continuous traffic jam in St. Helena in the summer is entirely tourism generated. But in addition to the daily influx of the tourist population, there is the daily influx of the tourism workforce that can’t afford to live in the county. And then there is the traffic generated by the expansion of industrial and housing projects in the south county. It is not just a tourism growth problem, but an urban growth problem.
Coming up from Berkeley every weekend for the last 22 years has made the growth seem somewhat like a time lapse movie, as the housing projects and shopping centers, motels, and school were added to American Canyon, and the warehouses and hotels and industrial parks rose around the airport and south Napa and as the shopping centers and waterfront projects grew along Soscol and as the lower Trail infilled in with housing projects and car dealerships. And as every road widening and signal was added along the route.
Napa County is principally accessed from the rest of the bay area by Hwy 29 from the south. Housing tracts and industrial development on the south boundary of the county along Hwy 29, concentrated there to maintain the agricultural zones to the north, have already created Napa’s most consistent traffic jams. It is congested enough now that tourists (and wine travel writers
) are beginning to debate whether wine tasting is worth the traffic. Yet much more housing, industrial and commercial development is already in the works..
North of this bottleneck and just south of the city of Napa the access to the valley splits with Hwy 29 on the west, and on the east a road running into downtown Napa joining eventually the charmingly named Silverado Trail along the more undeveloped eastern edge of the valley. They are connected by infrequent crossroads. In the 1960's the portion Hwy 29 at the west edge of Napa was widened into a 4 lane freeway with the intention to extend it to Calistoga. The extension was shelved after community resistance, essentially saving the vineyards of the valley from being wiped out by urban expansion at the time.
The county has ever since resisted 4 lane development and signalization on Hwy 29 and the Trail above Napa City, and has resisted freeway development in the South County, in an effort to curb urban development. The 2007 Draft EIR done in preparation for the 2008 General Plan included a catalog of improvements
necessary to mitigate the road conditions anticipated in 2030. These recommendations were dropped as being "inconsistent with the vision set forth in the general plan".
Unfortunately, building projects continue to be approved and the traffic congestion continues to mount. In 2014 Rte 12 though Jameson Canyon, linking Napa to the Centra Valley, was enlarged into a 4 lane freeway, a project pushed by Supervisor Bill Dodd
, a prime force in Napa's urban development since his election in 2000 (and now as a State Senator.) Traffic jams at the 12/29 intersection, induced by the completion of the project are now significant, driving more freeway building proposals
Given the impact that traffic is having on everyone, the County has taken steps in preparation for the months-long review of long term planning issue to take place throughout 2015-16 (now 2018). The Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency (NCTPA) [now NVTA
?] has commissioned the research firm of Fehr and Peers to produce a travel behavior study
as part of its Vision 2040 project
. I'm sure that someone can make some sense of its conclusions but the overlapping traveling cohorts and variable time periods make the numbers a bit impenetrable for the normal viewer. Perhaps for county officials as well. Unfortunately complication and confusion are always the handmaidens of profit seekers.
It appears that since the sale of the Napa ValleyWine Train to a new owner in 2015 (it never should have been sold to a private entrapreneur in the first place) that the sensible idea of using the tracks for commuter and tourist cars is now a consideration. While the talk is only of a commute line between Napa and St Helena, the line really needs to be able to run from the Vallejo ferry terminal, to an airport parking structure to Calistoga.
NVR 1/8/17: Wine Train willing to explore employee commuter service
Statewide intersection Traffic Counts 1993-2015
CA OTS traffic collisions by type, county, city, date
Bay Area MTC traffic fatality map 2001-2012
NCTPA Vision 2040 PDF 2015
NCTPA Vision 2040 Project
NCTPA Travel Behavior Study 2015
Napa County Travel Behavior Study 2015 Conclusions
UC Davis study: Increasing Highway Capacity Unlikely to Relieve Traffic Congestion
Caloyannidis on traffic for Girard
Napa General Plan Circulation Element
Mitigation excerpt from Draft GP Transport Element
(Feb 2007, not included in 2008 GP)
Napa County Traffic Counts (2003-2008)
Napa County Circulation baseline data report
NVR 11/17/18: Napa strategizes on how to improve 3 congested Highway 29 intersections
NVR 10/19/18: State, local officials discuss transportation at American Canyon forum
NVR 9/21/18: Napa County looks at congestion-busting ideas
NVR 5/9/18: Imagining a Napa County future of uncluttered roadways? Think again.
AmCan Eagle 3/28/18: American Canyon provides $250,000 for south county traffic study
NVR 2/12/18: Proposed Bay Area bridge toll hikes could benefit Napa County projects
NVR 2/10/18: Napa Logistics Park ready for next mammoth building in American Canyon
Alfredo Pedroza LTE 9/20/17: Time to think outside the box on traffic
Barry Eberling series: Traffic Tales of Napa County
NVR 7/31/17: Napa transportation leaders try to speed up fix to 29/221 intersection
NVTA Miller LTE 4/11/17: Clarifying position on highway widening
NVR 4/4/17: American Canyon may go it alone to widen Highway 29
NVR 3/16/17: Napa officials talk about scrapping Hwy 29 widening in American Canyon
NVR 3/15/17: Highway development could boost American Canyon population
NVR 3/6/17: Napa County dividing up $6.4 million in transportation money
NVR 1/14/17: Supes choose Pedroza to bring home transportation dollars
NVR 1/8/17: Wine Train willing to explore employee commuter service
NVR 12/28/16: No. 4 story of 2016: American Canyon faces major growth issues
NVR 12/1/16: Napa traffic: The commute will only get worse
Weekly Calistoga 10/10/16: Napa Valley posts poor traffic safety rankings
NVR 5/9/16: Calistoga offering luxury transportation to entice workers
NVR 5/6/16: Wine Train plans new train, winery stops
NVR 4/23/16: Planned Highway 29 flyway might give way to roundabouts
NVR 10/16/15: County's high traffic accident injury rate falling
NVR 8/6/15: Before the car, an electric railroad ruled the Napa Valley
NVR 4/19/15: Railroad motorcars draw the curious along Wine Train tracks
NVR 4/6/15: Soscol flyover to reduce Highway 29 traffic snarls
SH Star 2/25/15: An enlightening traffic study
NVR 9/3/14: Officials celebrate completion of Jameson Canyon widening project
Am Can Eagle 2/2/14: $349 million, 20-year proposed fix for Highway 29
WineSearcher 1/7/13: Traffic Trouble in Napa
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County General Plan Circulation Element Update
More traffic for Bottleneck Junction
Another traffic study for American Canyon
|Bill Hocker - Mar 29, 2018 9:32PM Share
AmCan Eagle 3/28/18: American Canyon provides $250,000 for south county traffic study
Another study - when it's already incredibly apparent that the only relief for American Canyon's traffic problems at this point is a freeway around, or through the middle of, the town.
Much like the up-valley people critical of the profusion of event-center wineries pushing the levels of tourism into the county (a charge vehemently denied by the wine industry - "we're just catering to the tourists that are already here") at least two of the 5 city council members want impact fees on wineries to cover the costs of road improvements. Despite denials from the wine industry and their minions in the county government, these city council members see a link - as I do.
But it's a bit ingenuous to try to re-focus the blame, even if somewhat justified. The Am Can city council, encouraged by the development entities that control it, has approved enormous amounts of industrial development and housing development and they are probably going to approve more. They have never done anything within their power to slow traffic creating development.
The concept that somehow the problem can be studied away while the building boom continues unabated is a bit naive. As with every "growth" problem in Napa County, the real solution is to stop growing. The idea that an economy must be always growing, with ever increasing jobs, ever increasing construction, ever increasing profits is a 1% solution promoted by the 1% that receive the profits. The other 99% must just accept more traffic, more urbanization, more taxes, and a loss of a quality of life inherent in being in a small town.
It is a battle worth waging, and is being waged, rather unsuccessfully, up valley. But given the projects already approved, the large industrial commitment that Am Can and Napa have already made, the Napa Pipe mega-project already under construction, and all those approved hotels and wineries that will soon need tourists and employees, the outlook is a little bleak to solve the traffic problems in American Canyon - beyond a 65mph bypass.
It is not an outcome that I would want; a massive traffic jam in American Canyon and around the airport is one of the most reliable ways of cooling development lust further up the valley. The NVTA recognized the same reality
in considering not to pursue a highway widening between American Canyon and Napa. It is unfortunate, but at this point it is a zero sum game - solving American Canyon's traffic problems means increasing the rate of urbanization in the rest of Napa county.
More development, more infrastructure, more taxes.
|Bill Hocker - Feb 12, 2018 11:55AM Share
NVR 2/12/18: Proposed Bay Area bridge toll hikes could benefit Napa County projects
The title of the article might also be "Bridge toll increase needed to facilitate urban growth in Napa County". In many places urban growth may be desirable and unavoidable. In Napa, nominally committed to preserving agriculture, the anthesis of urban development, the necessity of urban growth has been answered with "no" for 50 years. Yet, developers are irrepressible, and projects keep coming, and the traffic keeps increasing. As the flyover attests, the infrastructure lust to support future development (in the name of alleviating existing ills) is really, well, ramping up.
Just a few thousand more cars (updated)
|Bill Hocker - Oct 1, 2017 10:14PM Share
NVR 10/1/17: Mystery coalition complains about American Canyon traffic
Is this story about concerned citizens objecting to traffic or the mysteriousness of the concerned citizens? I can't help but think that the writer of the headline had an opinion here, not reflected in the story itself.
The reality, left undiscussed in the article, was the fact that Napa Logistics Park, while generating a lot of traffic, is just a part of the traffic that will be generated by the many other projects approved between American Canyon and Napa. Some of those projects are discussed here.
And then there is the enormous number of projects that have been approved in Napa
and Up Valley
all of which will add to the traffic in American Canyon.
NVR 12/22/15: American Canyon approves new industrial development
NVR 10/1/15: American Canyon planners praise mega business park
Napa Logistics Park will add 5800 more workers to the traffic jam known as American Canyon. Does anyone really think that CalTrans or local taxpayers are going to build road extensions and interchanges and highway widenings faster than the developers add projects and jobs and tourist destinations throughout the county? Hundreds of acres of open fields between Am-Can and Napa are slated for industrial development beyond this humongous project, bringing tens of thousands of employee cars and transport trucks. A couple hundred more projects are in the works throughout the county: housing, commercial centers, resorts, event centers, Costco, Napa Pipe and Watson Ranch, all their traffic trying to make their way through the already congested interchanges of American Canyon and South Napa.
And then there's the 388,000 sf warehouse being built at the Jameson Canyon bottleneck:
NVR 10/14/15: Construction begins at new Commerce Center in south Napa
Everyone talks about the traffic...
Highway improvements increase traffic (updated)
Wine country crash course
|Glenn J. Schreuder - Feb 27, 2017 3:39PM Share
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) finally released its 2014 data of its ‘relative’ ranking of California counties by Vehicular Collisions. The rankings are given for years 2008-2014 here.
It takes forever for OTS to finish a year (in this case 2014) because they have to gather vehicular Collision data from over 360 separate police agencies in California and compile it into a statistically meaningful report. My understanding is the state uses this data to dole out highway funds (think ‘blood alley’ which was that stretch of Hwy 101 on the way to Salinas back in the 70’s and 80’s. Caltrans spent big $ to make it safer)
So how this highly statistical report works in broad, general terms is that it looks at:
· Collision data from each of the 58 counties in California,
· The number of accidents of different types, then,
· The OTS compares that information to both the ‘population of each county’ and also the ‘estimated number vehicle-miles driven in that county’, then,
· OTS develops this data into a ranking system whereby each county is ranked, apples to apples, against all other 58 county.
So say for calendar year 2014, Napa County is the 7th worst county in California in the category of “Total Fatal and Injury” accidents. It’s ranking is expressed as “7/58” or using words “Napa County is the 7th most dangerous (or worst) county out of the 58 counties in California when measuring the total number of fatal and injury accidents”.
I added a color coding scheme to help with the interpretation the data, please refer to the Color Coded Legend at the bottom of the page. This is solely my own idea and not that of the OTS. I did Napa County and Sonoma County.
Napa Traffic Accidents 2008-12
Sonoma Traffic Accidents 2008-12
I think the data tells an important story but I will allow you draw your own conclusions regarding the meaning of this information.
SR PressDemocrat LTE 2/26/17: Close to Home: Are Sonoma County’s byways becoming inebriation highways?
NBC 2/16/12: Driving Drunk In Wine Country
Cakebread makes a valiant effort
|Bill Hocker - Feb 21, 2017 2:38PM Share
NVR 2/21/17: Cakebread Cellars ends experiment to get employees off Highway 29
While 2 weeks is not enough time to gage the workability of any pilot project, much less something as game-changing as getting people to stop using their cars, the attempt is to be commended.
$440/day per bus? The County spends $6 million dollars each year
to bring more tourists here, resulting in the need for ever more workers to tend to them, ever bigger traffic jams on Hwy 29 and ever more taxes to beef up the infrastructure. If they reallocated funds for just one year, they could fund about 4 free 50-person buses for the next 10 years, while slowing the tourism binge that is adding to the traffic, housing and infrastructure problems.
That would be pilot program with a chance to succeed.
The road not widened (updated)
Alternative transport solutions (updated)
|Bill Hocker - Jan 8, 2017 5:44PM Share
In response to a proposed community meeting on mass transit in Napa, George Caloyannidis, who has written on the issue of induced traffic created by highway expansion here
, sends along this comment on the subject:
How can anybody be against mass transit in the Napa valley? For most, it is a no-brainer!
I am one of them:
We learned from the U.C. Davis study that widening highways does not relieve congestion for more that 1-2 years. After that, the increased carrying capacity reaches its new level of maximum tolerance delays as long as the demand to reach a certain destination also increases.
Mass transit has the same effect on highways. It relieves highway congestion for a while and then the level returns to its previous levels.
Once this phenomenon is understood, devastating effects follow.
During the 1-2 traffic relief years, CEQA analysis for projects in the pipeline are approved based on the current relaxed traffic patterns. These projects which would not have been approved were it not for the widening of a highway (or due to mass transit) are approved. This increases demand. The end effect is that more and more people end up in a given community.
In the Napa valley, more and more people will visit, more wineries, more hotels, restaurants, more low paid workers, higher demand on the infrastructure, water, etc. In addition, our small communities will require more public services, police, fire, EMS etc., all resulting in higher costs borne by the residents.
While mass transit seems as if it solves a problem, it actually makes it worse than before.
The city of Los Angeles has a new underground Metro network. Over the years, traffic has increased dramatically and high rises (apartments, condos and retail) have emerged within 2 miles around Metro stations. A whole new density and infrastructure has emerged solely created by the Metro service.
NVR 1/8/17: Wine Train willing to explore employee commuter service
It appears that since the sale of the Napa ValleyWine Train to a new owner in 2015 (it never should have been sold to a private entrapreneur in the first place) that the sensible idea of using the tracks for commuter and tourist cars is now a consideration. One inexpensiive solution is field tested here
. While the talk is only of a commute line between Napa and St Helena, the line really needs to be able to run from the Vallejo ferry terminal, to an airport parking structure to Calistoga.
But one thing should be made very clear in all these discussions of alternative transportation: they will only, at best, serve to reduce the rate of increase in road traffic in the future, not decrease it. Development projects representing thousands (if not tens of thousands) of new trips each day have been approved or are in the planning pipeline, and more will continue to be proposed. Effective public transit projects take decades to realize, and will always lag the urbanization they attempt to mitigate.
NVR 4/21/15: Transportation plans face financial roadblocks
Most of the article was devoted to the issue of cycling (and walking) as a solution to traffic problems and the paucity of funds to make it a reality. I rode a bike to work during my 15 year professional career and I'm not unsympathetic to the idea of using bikes where possible. But as a transportation solution to reduce the hundreds of thousands of daily portages necessary to make society function, predictably in all weather, bicycle lanes are really just a sop built to placate the roomful of vocal activists that show up at every meeting seeing their spartan self-righteousness as a planetary solution. Accommodating bicycles costs a lot of money that might be devoted to real transport solutions - like the use of the wine train tracks as a cable car-styled people mover up and down the valley (feasibility tested here
), or a wine-industry-subsidized hospitality-, winery- and farm-worker transport van system linked to parking structures at the airport. Or perhaps for the education and support necessary to reverse population growth and the need for ever expanding transport networks (my own self-righteous planetary solution).
A discussion on one solution with very long odds of success, building affordable housing for the workforce in Napa County, was discussed at a community meeting here:
Panel looks at ways to keep Napa affordable
. They saw no easy solutions. Napa Pipe, in one of the most ambitious efforts to add affordable housing to the county, will actually be creating more low paid commercial, hotel and nursing home employees in the project than than can fit in the 190 affordable units proposed.
One proposal not brought up: having developers pay for the real costs, in housing needs, community and transport infrastructure, community services etc, etc, that their development schemes create, but which remain unfunded. The full impacts of development need to become part of the developer's decision to add more people to the county.
American Canyon Under the Bus
The traffic will only get worse (updated)
|Bill Hocker - Dec 7, 2016 10:43AM Share
NVR 12/28/16: No. 4 story of 2016: American Canyon faces major growth issues
At the Dec 7th Planning Commission meeting during the often very informative commissioner comments at the end, Comm. Cottrell referenced Gary Margadant's cumulative traffic impact comments earlier. Dir. Morrison jumped in to point out the the general plan has a traffic element which looks at cumulative impacts and that the county is in the process of updating that element due to be finalized next year. This prompted Comm Scott to ask if there aren't some steps that the Commission or the Board could be taking to alleviate the concerns over cumulative traffic impacts that are going to be brought up during all the development projects they will unquestionably approve going forward. Is there a congestion trigger that would allow the county to begin working with the state to come up with solutions?
Dir. Morrison, always the realist, said that there is no threshold on traffic congestion beyond which action must be taken. Look at Los Angeles. In any case, the congestion at major intresections in Napa is a State issue to be taken up with the NVTA
, and beyond the purvue of the County Board. (Comm. Scott, perhaps injudiciously, did mention that Napa now has one of its own in state government who might help.)
Comm. Gill, always with a bon mot in favor of more development, added that traffic in Turlock is even worse, and while Napa's broken finger may hurt, think of the poor people suffering a broken leg. Get over it.
12/2/16 Vine Bus Yard
NVR 12/1/16: Napa traffic: The commute will only get worse
NVR 12/19/16: Planned Napa resort objects to VINE bus yard relocation
NVR 3/28/17: Napa agency to do more environmental work on proposed bus yard
The county has just issued their mitigated negative declaration
for the proposed movement of the Vine Transit bus yard from central Napa to a location near the airport. You've got to get way down to the end of the document to go through the traffic numbers. The NVTA project page is here.
The congestion at intersections around the airport (and through American Canyon) are already at level F (the worst on the traffic scale). Reasoning that the project will only add 345 vehicle trips/day (less than a 1% increase to the backup), and won't change the F designation, the project traffic impacts are deemed "less than significant". It is the kind of head-in-the-sand rationalization that is made for each and every development project taking place in the county: one less-than-significant impact after another adding up to one hugely significant traffic jam.
Barry Eberling indicates some of the future projects in the immediate vicinity that will be contributing to the congestion. But he neglected to mention the Napa Pipe project (with its 950 housing units and a Costco) and the huge expansion of the Meritage Resort both at the Soscol junction. And he also didn't mention the dozens of building projects now in the works further up the valley that will require hundreds of employees and thousands of tourists. All are approved without a thought to the interchanges around the airport.
This project is different from all others, of course. The purpose of the buses is to reduce traffic congestion. And this is where the real failure of imagination in this project lies, because it is not seen as an opportunity to highlight the need to reduce congestion in a meaningful way.
For what it's worth (not much I suppose) I would like to propose an expanded vision of the project: Empty busses going to and from the bus facility are just a (rather lengthly) addition to the traffic jam and the county's GHG's. If those busses were full of workers or tourists when they leave the facility, they would be actually taking vehicles off the road in the rest of the valley. I would propose that instead of the 75 at grade employee parking spaces, what is needed is a 750 car parking sturcture. Purchasing an all-day parking slot would come with a free all-day pass on the Vine buses.
The parking structure and pickup station could be located on some other nearby property, preferably next to the potential light rail corridor a few hundred yards to the west (proposed in this Napa Pipe addendum
) , and this project would remain as it is. But the time to be thinking about a longer term solution to the Napa Valley traffic problem and a decent public transport system is long past due. Noisy, cumbersome, diesel buses are frankly a pathetic solution to our transport problems, and must be considered only as a stop gap measure. Perhaps, the sleek trams that bring visitors into the pedestrian-oriented city center of Strasborg, enjoyed on a visit this last summer, can inspire greater imagination.
Road and Street Standards Email Chain
|Gary Margadant - Apr 14, 2016 3:43PM Share
Subject: Fwd: Napa County RSS
Date: April 14, 2016 11:51:25 AM PDT
To: David.Morrison@countyofnapa.org, Steve.Lederer@countyofnapa.org and 1 more…
David, Steven, Rick
Please see the following email with my comments to Nate Galambos concerning the Napa County Road and Street Standards. I believe this to be a modest proposal to help the residents, planners and industry begin a conversation on cumulative impacts that are beginning to appear on all roads in Napa County.
We, NapaVision 2050, are particularly interested in the impacts moving into the hills and watersheds off the valley floor, where the rural residents have their homes and the beauty of the Napa Hillsides. The health and safety of these residents depends on the roads for ingress and egress, especially during large events, dangerous events and disasters. Their safe travel can be impeded by cumulative impacts that slow and even obstruct their passage upon the roads.
Currently, discretionary use permit applications are vetted with a comparison of similar and nearby use permits of size (production limits) with the employee, visitor, event guests and staff noted, yet not used to indicate the increased use of the roads and the additional impacts. Rather, traffic analysis is completed under an engineering system of observation and estimation that is such a short window of analysis precluding any review of cumulative impacts after the completion of the project where the impacts begin to become evident. Napa County can do better.
The residents and public would like a more rigorous system of comparison that begins with a transparent discussion of the total activity moving into the hilly watersheds they call home. Road and traffic analysis begins in the NC Dept of Public Works, and we urge them to look to this comparative information as a starting point in the discussion.
Best Regards, Gary
Subject: Napa County RSS
Date: April 13, 2016 3:02:13 PM PDT
I want to add a last thought to the discussion on the NC RSS proposal.
Our group has spoken about the Cumulative Effect of traffic on rural roads, Soda Canyon is an example, with the increased use of the road for Residential and Commercial Uses.
Soda canyon is a long cul de sac, with 12 miles of road in various degrees of condition, slope, width, road surface, etc., and yet there is no Napa County evaluation of this road based on the RSS standards or CalTrans standards. Such evaluations would greatly assist the residents and businesses to evaluate their plans for using the road as their needs require.
The evaluation would be similar to the Mt Veeder Technical Analysis for road construction stability, but evaluated against the standards mentioned.
The cumulative effect becomes very evident during concentrated events and disasters. This is our concern and we want to county to do a better job of evaluating the problems during such events based on the occupancy of all uses throughout the road length. The concentrated events can be construction, harvest, winery events, large parties, earthquakes and fires. We suggest the county have a cumulative count of all possible residents, employees, possible construction, commercial activity, winery visitation, winery events, etc. to help them estimate the potential for difficulties to provide for the health and safety of all road users. This number would be used during the evaluation for discretionary use permits and the resulting addition to the recognized impacts of previous evaluations.
The comparison could simply be the Occupancy based on the uses, the length of the road and the conditions of the road. Essentially, a list of the cumulative impacts.
The current evaluation for Discretionary uses rests solely on the traffic analysis, which in my opinion are very inadequate and unreliable in determining the cumulative impacts. Simply observing the road traffic on one or two days per year and adding analysis based on estimates is is only a partial solution. Adding a cumulative analysis mention above, would go a long way and begin to provide the residents with some vital information to evaluate their situation.
Publishing this information would certainly increase aspirin use, but I feel the transparency is a vital ingredient for public trust and participation.
An educated and informed group of residents can certainly evaluate the situation and even participate in the preparations for difficulties resulting from these large events. CERT Training (Citizen Emergency Response Team) can provide local assistance when large events and disasters stretch emergency and County response.
Best Regards, Gary
Subject: Re: Napa County Road and Street Standards, Meeting 4/7/16, 9-12am
Date: April 11, 2016 10:43:03 PM PDT
Again, thank you for your time and effort. As we see from our view, the tangle of cross jurisdictions, compartmentalization, public unknowns and assumptions, it is more than difficult to find the triggers and address the issues. It is certainly hard to find the keys to the cumulative impact door and register our thoughts and concerns to the party of record. I can only compare the search to a joist with windmills or fighting the blob; our path has not been clear.
You have proved to be helpful and consistent, addressing our concerns with thoughtful correspondence, and I thank you.
Here is my takeaway:
-Public Road Standards are addressed by the local cities and counties, not by the Board of Forestry.
-Private Drive and Commercial Drive Standards (off the Public Roadways) are addressed by the Board of Forestry through their RSS as administered by their certified agent, Napa County and the Dept of Public Works.
-Public Road Standards, established by the Counties and CalTrans, are the determining factors for the design, maximum capacity, speed and additional factors determining road safety.
-Public Road safety for all conditions of use, including cumulative impacts and disasters, are regularly reviewed by the Public Works Department with each development application.
-Private Drives and Commercial Drives, off the Public Roadways, under all conditions of use, including cumulative impacts and disasters, are regularly reviewed by the Public Works Department with each development application.
The fourth and fifth bullet may be open to some interpretation, but at the very least, it is the door, through which the Public, Private and Commercial Road cumulative impacts and disaster impacts pass, to be investigated and addressed.
Hopefully, there are no windmills once through that door.
Warmest Regards, Gary
On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 1:00 PM, Morrison, David wrote:
The State regulates private development. Public road standards are adopted by local cities and counties, not the State, which is why the Board of Forestry does not address them.
The “triggers” you are looking for are found in the standards established by the County and CalTrans for public roads. They take into account design, maximum capacity, speed, and other factors in determining road safety, and are regularly reviewed by the Public Works Department with each development application.
Subject: Re: Napa County Road and Street Standards, Meeting 4/7/16, 9-12am
Date: April 9, 2016 10:41:05 PM PDT
Many thanks for the review and research on the parameters of evacuation and road adequacy. It was a thorough discussion, but it does bring up a very poignant point: If the Roads are OK to handle a large evacuation with ingress and egress of people, cars and emergency vehicles and personnel, then why is the CA State Board of Forestry so concerned with the Road and Street Standards for Private and Commercial Roads? It makes me wonder about their driving concern for the focus on this current need to re-certify all counties administering the regulations? Are the public roads conditions and construction of no concern to the movement during a disaster, and the focus is only on the private and commercial access roads?
The last several years of wildfires have put a different emphasis on the access to buildings and wildfire areas, yet the public roads do not seem to be a source of concern. If the road is overburdened by the cumulative additions of vehicle trips and congestion, then one wonders why it is even necessary to be concerned about upgrading the private and commercial access? There have to be some triggers that point to a disaster in the making and provide a stop sign at the cumulative Rubicon.
I can't say I could put on a Planners Hat to find the solution. Do you have any insight that might help or a reference for research and an answer? Is this a better question for Peter Munoa at the State level.
Subject: Public Works Engineering Assessment of Mt Veeder Road
Date: April 8, 2016 11:37:44 PM PDT
After a discussion with Diane, I am passing on this NC Dept of Public Works stability assessment of Mt Veeder Road.
Here is the engineering review completed on Mt Veeder Road. The review only dealt with the stability of the underlying soils, the road structures and any weaknesses in the culverts carrying water under the road. It did not deal with the slopes of the road, compliance with the NC and State Dept of Forestry Road and Street Standards, pavement conditions and safety for any emergency vehicles or residents. It certainly did not deal with the capacity of the road during normal daily use nor emergency operations during medical or disaster emergencies. Cumulative impacts impairing road use are neighter discussed nor evaluated. It is simply a narrow report.
But this is a start that needs to be used as a stepping stone into the NC Risk Management Plan and the NC Hazardous Mitigation. There is more information to follow provided by David Morrison.
On Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 12:57 PM, Morrison, David wrote:
Barry, Nate, and I look forward to seeing you at the next NC RSS workshop.
Two-lane rural roads typically are able to accommodate hundreds of cars per hour at maximum capacity, even in mountainous terrain. I haven’t yet seen any indication, from either the public or from Public Works, that capacity is being reached on Soda Canyon Road.
With regards to your request for a risk analysis of the road design for the SMR Vineyard Winery, I’m afraid we cannot assist you in that effort. To begin with, we don’t analyze public and private roads for their maximum design capacity or prepare individualized evacuation plans for each road. That’s not how emergency planning is carried out. The fire hazard section in the 2013 Napa County Operational Area Hazards Mitigation Plan (OAHMP) focuses on: (1) defensible space; (2) Firewise Councils; (3) fuel reduction; (4) EOC training; and (5) reducing fire ignition. In general, the focus of the OAHMP is to minimize the potential for wildfires, thereby reducing the risk and the need for emergency evacuations.
Similarly, the purpose of the Fire Management Plan prepared by Cal-Fire is to identify the high value, high-risk areas within the county so as to plan for reducing the damaging effects of wildfire. This is accomplished through a comprehensive approach designed to minimize the costs and losses due to wildfire by a variety of means, including response planning, cooperative fuel reduction projects, fire prevention, and education.
Neither the County nor Cal-Fire have evacuation plans, as they would need to be specific to the type and location of the disaster. An evacuation plan for a wildfire will be different than one needed for a flood, and both will be different than one needed for an earthquake or hazardous materials spill. In short, there are too many potential scenarios to effectively prepare detailed contingencies for each possibility. In general, the goal of wildfire evacuations is to maintain egress routes while continuing the reduction of sources of ignition. The ability to move is important for not only the public safety but for the fire resources to mitigate the incident.
The third place to look would be the General Plan. Two policies may be of particular interest. The first policy notes that safety hazards are only considered when involving projects serving 50 people or more in hazard-prone areas. As such, facilities such as the SMR Winery and others would not meet this minimum threshold. The second policy indicates that traffic ingress/egress is only one consideration to be used when assessing the fire safety of new development.
Policy SAF-3: The County shall evaluate potential safety hazards when considering General Plan Amendments, re-zonings, or other project approvals (including but not limited to new residential developments, roads or highways, and all structures proposed to be open to the public and serving 50 persons or more) in areas characterized by:
1) Slopes over 15 percent,
2) Identified landslides,
4) Medium or high fire hazard severity,
5) Former marshlands, or
6) Fault zones.
Policy SAF-20: All new development shall comply with established fire safety standards. Design plans shall be referred to the appropriate fire agency for comment as to:
1) Adequacy of water supply.
2) Site design for fire department access in and around structures.
3) Ability for a safe and efficient fire department response.
4) Traffic flow and ingress/egress for residents and emergency vehicles.
5) Site-specific built-in fire protection.
6) Potential impacts to emergency services and fire department response.
In summary, neither PBES, Public Works, Risk Management, or Cal-Fire currently perform this type of analysis, because it is not germane to how we approach emergency response. Preparing a study like this would require diverting staff resources from established County and Board of Supervisor priorities.
Please accept my apologies. I don’t recall making a reference to the Sacramento Land Use Commission, nor am I sure what group to which you are referring. Local Government Commission? Council of Governments?
The NCOAHMP is about 25 MB is size. The County email system cannot accommodate including such a large attachment. We can burn you a CD or thumb drive of the file, if you would like.
Unfortunately, we cannot assist you further with your request, but look forward to continuing the dialogue regarding appropriate road standards within the State Responsibility Area.
From: Gary Margadant [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2016 8:19 AM
To: Morrison, David
Subject: Napa County Road and Street Standards, Meeting 4/7/16, 9-12am
A short note to outline my areas of concern and proposals.
As I have related in the past, the Risks of isolation to rural areas like Soda Canyon (a good example) with residents along the road and a sizable concentration at the top (Foss Valley) with heavy coverage of Vineyards and a the attached agricultural operations. Wineries are in attendance with plans to expand visitor numbers, all adding to the traffic load and Risks for this long cul de sac.
Soda Canyon is the Ingress/Egress for all these operations and residents and the neighbors are concerned about the ability of the Road to carry this traffic during a disaster, which includes the added traffic of emergency personnel and vehicles attending to the needs in the area.
What is the Tipping Point when the amount of people and activities will overwhelm the Road's ability to provide adequate travel for all the needs during a disaster. Essentially, the road is unable to provide for the Health and Safety of these people and the emergency personnel.
You mentioned, in another meeting, that the Napa County Risk Management Plan might be the vehicles to evaluate the capacity of such Roads as Soda Canyon. I think this method holds great potential and I want to suggest an evaluation of two recent RSS projects to porovide examples of this analysis: Phelan Residence - P12-00265-UP, and 3646 SMR Vineyards Winery Use Permit #P14-00327. Both required extensive road work and exceptions based on the old RSS Standards.
Is this analysis something that Kerry Whitney or his department could provide?
I would like a copy of the NC Risk Management Plan to begin research on this promising avenue.
On Mar 27, 2016, at 10:15 PM, Gary Margadant wrote:
Helene, Barry and David
Many thanks for your help and participation at the meeting to discuss the Road Risks and the use of RSS.
We are very interested in continuing the discussion in addition to our participation in the April 7 Stakeholder meeting on the NC RSS proposals.
Hopefully, research into the NC Hazard Management Plan and our desire to find the tipping point when the roads become a hindrance to safe ingress and egress during an emergency event. I would like to see such an analysis of such risks for the road design into 3646 SMR Vineyards Winery, Use Permit #P14-00327, for a broader discussion the same overall practical effect and the technical nature of Risk Management withing NC.
Is this something performed by Kerry Whitney? Perhaps a meeting to discuss the subjects?
David mentioned the Sacramento Land Use Commission proceeding might be helpful in our discussion. Any pointers for search subjects?
Thanks again for your time and efforts. It was a very useful meeting.
Traffic? Don't ask Alice
|George Caloyannidis - Nov 12, 2015 12:00PM Share
One could easily have expected the results in the search for solutions to our traffic congestion when government and business get together
. Expecting two addicts in unison to find ways to treat their addiction has predictable outcomes. Nicotine patches, e-cigarettes, perhaps periodic rehabs are certain to be the types of remedies they would suggest. So, we end up with solutions of the busing, shuttling, traffic impact fee, transit-on-demand variety. Patches!
Is it a wonder that no one had the courage to even suggest the untouchable root of the problem, which is that of curtailing growth? How about instead of prescribing sleeping pills to a smoker, going straight to the cause instead of the symptom? But asking two addicts who find comfort and mutual validation in each other for their addiction to suggest ways to cure what gives them their very euphoria, is too much to ask for.
Traffic congestion may be the one factor most visible at the moment caused exclusively by growth, but growth will have many more and much more serious and expensive ramifications in the not so distant future unless we bite the bullet with bold decisions our leaders carry the responsibility for.
Buses and shuttles will do nothing to solve the problems one third of the valley's additional daily population from the outside is causing in overusing our available resources and capacities, from water to sewer handling facilities. Transit-on-demand will do nothing to add to our limited power grid capacity, nothing to stem the unabated degradation of our water sheds. Traffic impact fees will do nothing to alleviate the shame of a community with people living in its garages.
It is time for a growth forum if we want to get real with our future. But no one has the courage to look into that looking glass. Much easier to step right through it into Alice's Wonderland.
NVR version: Alice's traffic problems
All George Caloyannidis' posts on SCR
Everyone talks about traffic
|Bill Hocker - Nov 1, 2015 9:13PM Share
Sean Scully, editor of the Napa Valley Register, has penned an editorial on optimism, The absence of gloom
, in which, after lamenting the sad state of the world, is buoyed by the can-do presentation on transportation
issues made to the Napa Valley Vintners by Dir. Morrison, Calistoga mayor Chris Canning, and a UC Davis transportation expert.
George Caloyannidis responded to Mr. Scully:
"I read your excellent article twice and I need to think about it a lot before I can respond in a constructive way. But here is an article which you probably are already aware of which shows how insurmountable the obstacles to optimism are.
Vision 2050 is trying to give voice to the people who lack any constituency (though this is exactly who the BOS is supposed to represent), but despite its efforts such as reaching out to Latinos Unidos, it has had little sustained success in reaching out to this underclass which drives the wine industry economy. It is interesting to note that in the article below, there is no mention that the 10.5 million "grants" by which the Ortiz Plaza development is being financed, is really a subsidy paid for by the general public for the benefit of the wine industry which is swimming in money.
While this study addresses the conditions in Sonoma County, we need to recognize that we don't have the luxury of a 175,000 population city of Santa Rosa in the Napa Valley where farm workers can find some form of housing as bad as it is. For us here, Santa Rosa is called Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville resulting in a 25% commuter traffic gridlock. Try driving south at 5:30 am from St. Helena to Hwy 80 on 29. You will be blinded by the uninterrupted string of lights driving north (and south at the end of the working day).
Thank you again for the thought provoking article."
Mr. Caloyannidis' most recent dissection of transportation issues is here:
Girard traffic analysis
The traffic jam (aka American Canyon) lengthens
|Bill Hocker - Oct 29, 2015 8:36AM Share
AmCan Eagle: Napa Junction III gets underway
The city's Napa Junction III page
The EIR traffic analysis
Another strip mall is being built at the edge of American Canyon - the first phase of 143000 sf of buildings and 148 apartments floating in a 565 car parking lot just north of the Wallmart parking lot. The traffic load: 5065 new trips/day plus 3000 trips/day from cars just passing through (huh?).
And how is all this traffic to be mitigated at the AmCan intersections that are already operating at level of service F (gridlock) during peak hours? Payment of traffic impact fees toward the construction of improvements to Hwy 29
that are supposed to solve all of Napa's access problems - some time in the future. State taxpayers still haven't coughed up the real money for the Hwy 29 improvements, and they will never happen fast enough to keep up with the development already happening
in the county. The delay at the 29/Napa Junction intersection once this mall is built is designated as "OVR" - meaning a delay of over 1000 secs, or 16 minutes. They don't say how much over.
The mitigation fees will no doubt be used for other unfunded impacts of the project - like the inevitable overrun costs of the greywater line. No mitigation of the traffic on 29 will happen, and the backup at the signals will become ever longer. Well, perhaps some mitigation: as the discretionary travelers (i.e. tourists) give up coming to the Napa Valley because of gridlock, some current traffic may be reduced.
What do American Canyon residents really get out of this development? Higher taxes of course, longer waits in traffic, and maybe a closer Micheal's or Taco Bell. (Tractor Supply Co? Hard to farm parking lots and housing tracts) What does the city get out of the development? More storm drains to unclog, more robberies to investigate, more fires to put out, more kids to school, more water worries. What do the developers get? Money.
Creative solutions for traffic creation
|Bill Hocker - Sep 14, 2015 9:55PM Share
NVR: NCTPA wrapping up countywide transportation plan
As usual I am coming late to the major development projects being proposed in the county. As with most of them, the solutions being proposed to the problems created by previous development is - more development. Traffic has become the most evident of the problems created by the continuous expansion of the tourism industry and imported-grape wine industry in the county. Both the county and the municipalities have continued to do what all local governments, as tools of development interests, have done: sanction the conversion of vacant land into buildings with the promise of jobs and fees and taxes necessary to pay for the impacts of previously approved projects.
The Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency has been working for several years qon its Vision 2040 Plan
to propose solutions to the traffic congestion that now impacts everyone's daily life in the county. The solutions proposed are nuts and bolts mitigations of existing problems: widen the congested stretches, signalize the blocked intersections and build a flyover for the worst of them. And then there are the enormous amounts to be spent on hopeful solutions. Maybe more people will use buses if enough money is spent on maintenance or schedules. Maybe the population will decide bicycles are a more convenient mode of travel if enough money is spent on the vine trail.
Such traffic mitigations, unfortunately, will never keep pace with the increase in traffic as long as the current amount of building development continues in the county. The mitigations proposed by NCTPA may help with the existing problems citizens have complained about. But by the time those mitigations are in place, 150 more tourism wineries or winery expansions will be built promising tens of thousands of new events, 3000 housing units will be built, hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial space will be built, several major resorts and hotels will be built, a new jail will be built and, of course, a Costco will be built. All will bring more tourists, and workers, and shoppers and residents - and their vehicles.
And the reality is that the easier you make it to get from one place to another the more people and development are attracted to come. The level of congestion quickly rises again to the not-quite-tolerable awaiting more costly mitigations. (Since the completion of the Jameson Canyon widening, its intersection with Hwy 29 has become hopelessly clogged as traffic seeks the easiest route to get from Sacramento to the Napa Valley and points east). What is never proposed is that development should be stopped first, and then, once you know that no more buildings will be built and no more jobs created, at least for a predictable period of time, efforts can be undertaken to make getting from one place to another more bearable.
NCTPA is doing what it is charged to do: make proposals to try to relieve existing problems. It is up to city and county governments to limit the development that will create the traffic of the future.
Urbanization by Over-Visitation
|Geoff Ellsworth - Jun 17, 2015 7:37AM Share
NVR version Urbanization by over visitation
- lots of comments]
Please look at the chart of suggested Napa County roadway expansions from the 2007 Napa County Draft Environmental Impact Report
-Widening much of Silverado Trail to 4 lanes
-Widening much of Highway 29 to 4 and even 6 lanes in places
-Widening of upvalley 2 lane roads such as Deer Park road and Chiles-Pope Valley Road into 4 lane roads
While these expansions are explained as “…inconsistent with the current county General Plan”, they are also noted as the “the necessary roadway improvements that when applied to the 2030 network would mitigate the significant traffic operation impacts at the locations specified” and would “reduce peak hour and daily levels of service to acceptable levels.”
We are already experiencing twice daily gridlock traffic along both Hwy 29 and Silverado Trail. Our currently over-impacted road/traffic situation will degrade further with every new high visitation project approved as more tourism and the hospitality workforce to support that tourism will be required to travel up and down our roads.
Our infrastructure and roadways WILL SIMPLY HAVE TO EXPAND if we continue to accommodate a heavy-visitation tourism based economy and the traffic increases brought on by continued approval of winery and hospitality endeavors.
This infrastructure and roadway expansion will create a further and rapid urbanization of Napa Valley/County, intense pressure on our Agricultural Preserve as well as a threat to the rural character, community fabric and quality of life in Napa County/Valley.
This will be urbanization by over-visitation, the Napa Valley and Napa County will be transformed by the necessary roadway and infrastructure increases to accommodate the increased visitation currently promoted.
While this may seem unthinkable to those that love and care about the rural character of Napa Valley/County, our communities and of protecting our growing/farming lands, it is clear that If we continue adding heavy visitation-oriented development our current two-lane roads or “feeder arteries” will be stressed to the breaking point, and our Ag Preserve/ growing lands will get further paved over to accommodate this visitation/ hospitality/marketing aspect.
We must also consider the effects on our precious grapegrowing microclimate of 1000’s of slow moving cars and trucks idling in our narrow valley, as well as water limitations.
There are over 55 new and expansion projects
in the county pipeline waiting for approval. Is this urbanization the future we want for Napa Valley and Napa County? We must stop now and analyze the cumulative impacts of current development before we allow more. We must analyze the carrying capacity of our roads, infrastructure and water availability in relation to the health, welfare and safety of our citizens and community.
The time to stand up is now
for those that believe in our Ag Preserve as a Growing/Farming region, for those that wish to protect our communities and the rural nature of our county, We must find the common ground upon which to stand together now.
Please contact all County Supervisors and Planning Commission (below),
write letters to our newspapers, and become involved with groups such as the NapaVision2050 Coalition,
Sooner is better.
Feel free to pass this letter on or to contact mebest,
Napa Valley Register Editor - Sean Scully email@example.com
St. Helena Star Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
NAPA COUNTY - BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Brad Wagenknecht email@example.com
Mark Luce firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Dillon Diane.Dillon@countyofnapa.org
Alfredo Pedroza Alfredo.Pedroza@countyofnapa.org
Keith Caldwell email@example.com
NAPA COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION
Heather Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Basayne email@example.com
Anne Cottrell firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Scott email@example.com
Matt Pope firstname.lastname@example.org
Napa Vision 2050
Advocating for Responsible Planning to Insure Sustainability for Napa County's Finite Resources
Get out of town fast
|Bill Hocker - Apr 7, 2015 12:14PM Share
NVR: Soscol flyover to reduce Highway 29 traffic snarls
As with all traffic mitigations, the flyover is a stopgap measure to temporarily reduce current inconveniences. This case is more useless than most because it will just move the current bottleneck literally down the road. And it will probably be completed after Napa Pipe adds a thousand housing units, 200,000sf of industrial/retail space, a hotel and nursing home and, oh yes, a Costco. And after 500 housing units at Tulocay Village, the county jail, and 1250 units and a town center at Watson Ranch. All are a short drive from the flyover. And of course it will have to handle the hundreds of thousands of tourists that all of the as-yet-unbuilt vanity event centers are expecting to enable their unprofitable wineries to survive.
And of course if by some magic traffic mitigations worked to relieve congestion, that just greases the skids for more development.
The problem that the county should be considering is how to reduce traffic, not how to make a bad thing more bearable thus encouraging more bad things. Traffic congestion is a consequence of urban development, and the best way, really the only way, to ease traffic congestion is to stop urbanizing. As long as urbanization continues the traffic mitigations will never catch up to the impacts and everything will be as congested as before. The real best way to reduce traffic congestion not just to stop urbanizing but is to reverse urbanization - to begin engaging in ruralization.
Is it possible to ruralize in this place at this time? Well Napa has one of the most expensive legal crops in the world. As Andy Beckstoffer said in a recent article
: "Never in the history of mankind has agriculture withstood urban growth long-term, but here we have the best chance."
All the politicians say they want to preserve the agriculture that is the golden goose of the Napa Valley. In the meantime the vineyards are being filled up with building projects. It is time for our politicians to jettison the idea of smart growth (which more recently they've actually replaced with dumb growth) and instead begin looking at ideas that might reverse growth. Maybe then we wouldn't be so anxious to get out of town.
Well, maybe not so fast: Transportation plans face financial roadblocks
Who's stuck in the traffic jam?
|Bill Hocker - Dec 22, 2014 8:04PM Share
Study reveals who's clogging napa roadways
From the study:
"it was estimated that 21% of total daily trips into Napa County were “visitor” trips, a number four percentage points higher than the percentage of visitor trips from the vehicle intercept survey (discussed in more detail in Chapter 5). However,
visitors to Napa County are likely underrepresented in the vehicle intercept survey as potential respondents who live or work in Napa County are generally considered to be more likely to complete the survey."
Let's not forget the that the employees of the tourist industry and the development industry that cater to the needs of those visitors constitute a (perhaps significant) addition to the percentage of traffic attributable to tourism.
The full study is here
(via the St. Helena Window
Just the conclusions are here
(via the St. Helena Window
Hwy 29 improvements in south Napa
|Bill Hocker - Nov 20, 2014 5:58PM Share
The following links are related to the proposed Cal-Trans changes to Hwy 29 from American Canyon to Soscol. They are related to Napa Pipe in that they are both part of the development of the Napa-Vallejo metropolitan area. The highway proposal is intended to ease (but will in fact encourage more) traffic into the valley.
What is not covered in the propsal is the Soscol corridor into town. A mile further north on Soscol from the Hwy 29 flyover is the intersection with Kiser Rd which will serve almost all traffic to Napa Pipe, 1000 housing units, a Costco, 200,000 sf of retail commercial industrial office space, a hotel and senior center. This intersection, currently almost empty of cross traffic will become as congested as the American Canyon/29 interchange is now.
And will the flyover really be able to ease things enough once thousands of vehicles from Napa Pipe and the Watson Ranch, and the future industrial parks at the airport and American Canyon are added? Will it just be a temporary speed up going toward the next intersection bottleneck?
As long as the county and the municipalities of Napa aspire to the development levels of Sonoma or Contra Costa counties, Cal-trans will never be able to keep up with the traffic.
Napa County Transportation & Planning Agency SR 29 Project Documents
NCTPA project Proposed Program
American Canyon discusses face-lift for Highway 29 corridor
Plan proposes $349 million in Highway 29 improvements
No six lanes on Highway 29
Caltrans continues planning Soscol Junction project
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