The city of Seaside released a much-anticipated draft environmental impact report today on Monterey Downs, a proposed equestrian-themed development and horse park on the former Fort Ord in Seaside.
The draft EIR is available in full on Seaside’s website, and will be open for public comment until 5pm on June 1.
One of the big impacts, or in EIR parlance, “significant and unavoidable,” is traffic, at least at a few key intersections and stretches of road.
Many traffic impacts can be mitigated with additional lanes, changes to stoplights or speed limits and other adjustments. But one major unavoidable impact is on segments of highway outside the city of Seaside’s jurisdiction when it comes to accommodating increased traffic.
Specifically, those stretches of highway are Highway 1 in both directions from the Fremont exit in Seaside to the Fremont exit in Monterey; and Highway 1 northbound from Fremont in Monterey to the Highway 68 entrance ramp.
Besides the highway, and several on-ramps and off-ramps, there are a couple of intersections and on-ramps that would experience significant, unavoidable impacts, according to the draft EIR: Imjin Road and 8th Street, and Col. Durham Street at 7th Avenue, near Monterey College of Law.
Some traffic-related impacts can be mitigated, according to the draft EIR. Those include the Monterey Downs developer paying fees to cover the cost of widening Gigling Road to four lanes between General Jim Moore Boulevard and Eighth Avenue, which would change names to Monterey Downs Road beyond where it currently dead ends in the former Fort Ord.
Recommended mitigations also include installing a traffic light or roundabout at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Gigling, and lots more traffic lights at the following intersections in what today is a sleepy area of dead ends: 7th Avenue and Gigling, 8th Avenue and Inter-Garrison Road, General Jim Moore Boulevard and Coe Avenue.
Another recommendation for Monterey Downs, which envisions a horse park hosting races and special events, is to prepare an annual plan for traffic related to special events.
The plan would be similar to other big events like the AT&T Pro-Am that offer off-site parking and shuttles, and cones or signs on the roadway to help direct traffic to and from special events.
The project presumes the completion of Eastside Parkway, which will connect Parker Flats to East Garrison. If that road isn’t built by 2018, the draft EIR states, impacts on another six intersections will be deemed “significant and unavoidable” without a new thoroughfare help divert traffic and ease congestion.