2012-07-12 / Front Page

Governor inks Olsen's bill on Highway 140

SACRAMENTO –– Today, Assembly Bill 1973 by Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. AB 1973 will help restore full access to State Route 140 (SR140) in Mariposa County through the “Ferguson Slide” that leads to Yosemite National Park.
“Reconstruction of SR 140 is essential to the health and stability of Mariposa County’s economy,” said Olsen. “I’m pleased that the Governor recognized the importance of allowing this commonsense fix for Mariposa County.”
CalTrans has completed a draft Environmental Impact Report showing that all reconstruction alternatives will affect one fully protected species - the limestone salamander. In order to begin reconstruction, CalTrans needs an “incidental take” permit.
Currently, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is prohibited from granting an incidental take permit for a fully protected species. AB 1973 will authorize DFG to grant such a permit for the limestone salamander, contingent upon appropriate mitigations.
“Passage of AB 1973 into law is essential to ensuring safety on the roadway, and to the economy of the entire Yosemite region,” said Kevin Cann, Mariposa County Supervisor. “We appreciate Assemblymember Olsen for her leadership and hard work on this issue.”
Olsen introduced AB 1973 at the request of Mariposa County.
Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, is Chair of the Legislature's Rural Caucus and Chief Republican Whip in the Assembly. She represents the 25th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Angels Camp, Chowchilla, Hughson, Mammoth Lakes, Mariposa, Modesto, Oakdale, Oakhurst, Riverbank, Sonora, and Waterford.

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The limestone salamander is

The limestone salamander is surely very important, but I do not see that as the major issue coutering the proposed improvement to Hwy. 140. Has anybody performed a study to quantify the negative effects on Mariposa of the existing by-pass? My trips to the park are inconvenienced by a 5 to 10-minute wait and nothing more. Has there been a measurable reduction in tourist traffic due to the bypass? It seems to me that the state, in its current fiscal crisis, has more pressing matters to spend money on (or not to) and the existing by-pass is working just fine. If we are to spend millions (maybe 100´s of millions), we ought to have some hard data upon which to base such a costly decision. A favorable 'Net Present Cost' study would seem a much bigger barrier to cross than the salamanders.

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