March 23, 2007
(For Board: April 13, 2007)

 

REPORT OF THE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
AND PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Honorable Board of Directors
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway
  and Transportation District

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Friday, March 23, 2007, at 9:30 a.m., Chair Boro presiding.

Committee Members Present (7): Chair Boro; Vice Chair Martini; Directors Cochran, Kerns, Newhouse Segal and Reilly; President Moylan (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (2): Directors Dufty and McGoldrick
Other Members Present (6): Directors Eddie, Grosboll, Hernández, Pahre, Sandoval and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (13): Directors Cochran, Eddie, Grosboll, Hernández, Kerns, Martini, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly, Sandoval and Stroeh; First Vice President Boro; President Moylan
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (6): Directors Brown, Dufty, McGlashan, McGoldrick and Middlebrook; Second Vice President Ammiano

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney Madeline Chun; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson

Visitors Present: Jerry Grace, Oakland Resident

   
1. Status Report on State/Federal Legislation
   
 

General Manager Celia Kupersmith reported on the status of the following federal legislation:

Golden Gate Bridge Moveable Median Barrier Project: Ms. Kupersmith reported that during the week of February 26, 2007, she, along with District Engineer Denis Mulligan and Board members (President Moylan, First Vice President Boro and Director Middlebrook) traveled to Washington, D.C. They received a positive response from Bay Area members of Congress, as well as key Congressional committee staff, regarding funding for the District’s Moveable Median Barrier project.

Water Resources Development Act/Larkspur Ferry Channel Dredging: Ms. Kupersmith also reported that while in Washington, D.C., the District representatives also met with members of Congress and received a positive response to the District’s request to have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) take on federal responsibility for dredging of the Larkspur Ferry Channel.

Golden Gate Bridge Security: Ms. Kupersmith further reported that the District representatives also sought federal funding for physical security improvements to the District’s facilities, stating that it appears a higher funding priority is being given to the training of first responders rather than for physical security improvements, such as cameras and fences.

Chair Boro reported on the status of the following state legislation:

Assembly Bill No. 463 – Chair Boro described Assembly Bill No. 463 (AB 463), which pending legislation was presented at the March 22, 2007, meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority Board of Directors. He stated that AB 463, named the “California Clean Ferry Act of 2007,” was introduced by Assembly Member Jared Huffman and requires that after January 1, 2008, all diesel-powered ferryboats must meet the same air quality standards set forth in statutes applicable to the ferryboats being constructed for the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority. Chair Boro stated that AB 463, as currently drafted, could also apply to all new engines installed on diesel-powered ferryboats after January 1, 2008, which could have implications for the District’s fleet.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Martini made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the District’s new high-speed passenger ferry would be subject to the statutes set forth in AB 463. In response, Ms. Kupersmith explained that AB 463 appears to require that the District’s new high-speed passenger ferry meet certain air emission test levels. She also stated that the available technology required to meet such standards could increase the cost of the new passenger ferry by $1-2 million, but that this technology has not yet been proven to reduce ferryboat emissions to the degree required in the legislation. She noted that Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James Swindler is currently working with public and private ferry operators statewide to develop a joint response to this proposed legislation.
    • He commented that AB 463 may impose potentially strict regulations on ferry operators. In response, Mr. Swindler stated that AB 463 would require ferry operators to reduce emissions from EPA-mandated clean diesel ferry engines by an additional 85%. He added that the group of ferry operators will meet with legislative staff and Assembly committee members on March 27, 2007, to discuss AB 463. He stated that the ferry operators hope that the legislation will be delayed until after the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority’s ferryboats are delivered in 18 months, in order to test the new air emission technology in operation. Mr. Swindler described this air emission technology, known as the “selective catalytic reduction” system, and stated that if this system was to be added to an existing vessel, it would affect the vessel’s weight, wake, drag and fuel consumption.

Action by the Board – None Required

   
2.
Approve Actions Relative to Designation of the Golden Gate Bridge as a Safety Awareness Zone
   
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided staff’s recommendation to designate the Golden Gate Bridge as a Safety Awareness Zone, and to approve a Safety Awareness Zone Plan in accordance with the provisions of Senate Bill No. 988 (SB 988). The report stated that SB 988 was signed into law on September 29, 2006, designating the Golden Gate Bridge as a Safety Awareness Zone for a period of three years. The designation can be extended for another three years upon approval by the Board of Directors. The report included a copy of the text of SB 988, as well as a copy of the Safety Awareness Zone Plan developed by staff in accordance with SB 988. The Safety Awareness Zone Plan includes a history of traffic safety improvements, engineering measures, speed limit enforcement by the California Highway Patrol and public education, measures which have aided the flow of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. A copy of the report, with attachments, is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Kary Witt summarized the staff report, noting that by statute, the Golden Gate Bridge is the only roadway in the State of California that is designated as a Safety Awareness Zone. He stated that a Safety Awareness Zone designation will allow the District to maintain, enhance and promote the high level of traffic safety on the Golden Gate Bridge that has been achieved over the years. He provided a brief history of previous efforts in 2004, 2005 and 2006 by Senator Carole Migden to pass legislation authorizing the re-establishment of a Double Fine Zone on the Golden Gate Bridge, noting that the third such effort resulted in SB 988.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Reilly inquired regarding the accident rate on the Golden Gate Bridge before and after the Double Fine Zone was implemented. In response, Mr. Witt provided general trend information, noting that the new Safety Awareness Zone designation hopefully will serve as an additional safety enhancement technique.
  • Director Newhouse Segal inquired as to whether there are other Double Fine Zones in California. In response, Mr. Witt stated that during the years in which the Golden Gate Bridge was designated as a Double Fine Zone, there were 12 other roadways so designated. He also stated that although the accident data on the Golden Gate Bridge showed a correlation between the Double Fine Zone designation and accident reduction, the same correlation could not be established for the other roadways. He noted that at this time, Highway 4 is the only roadway designated as a Double Fine Zone.
  • Director Grosboll inquired as to the benefits the District would receive from having the Golden Gate Bridge designated as a Safety Awareness Zone. In response, Mr. Witt stated that the designation would provide legislative recognition that there are unique physical, structural and environmental conditions on the Golden Gate Bridge that make traffic safety a high priority.
  • Director Martini inquired as to why there was opposition to Double Fine Zones. In response, Mr. Witt stated that the trucking industry and the State of California, Department of Transportation were opposed in principle to Double Fine Zones, for a variety of reasons.

Staff recommended, and the Committee concurred by motion made and seconded by Directors KERNS/COCHRAN to forward the following recommendation to the Board of Directors for its consideration.

 

RECOMMENDATION


The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve the following actions relative to the designation of the Golden Gate Bridge as a Safety Awareness Zone, in accordance with the provisions of Senate Bill No. 988:
a. Designate the Golden Gate Bridge as a Safety Awareness Zone; and,
b. Approve a Safety Awareness Zone Plan, as attached.

Action by the Board – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

   
 
AYES (13): Directors Cochran, Eddie, Grosboll, Hernández, Kerns, Martini, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly, Sandoval and Stroeh; First Vice President Boro; President Moylan
NOES (0): None
   
3.
Status Report from the Board Appointee on the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority (WTA)
   
 

Chair Boro, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority (WTA) Board Appointee, provided a status report on recent activities of the WTA. The following items were provided to the Committee:

  1. Agenda for the March 14, 2007, meeting of the Planning and Development Committee; and,
  2. Notice of Cancellation for the March 13, 2007, meeting of the Administrative/ Finance/ Legislative Committee.

Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Chair Boro reported on topics discussed at the March 22, 2007, meeting of the WTA Board of Directors. He stated that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steve Castleberry provided a report to WTA Board of Directors providing a status report on the new routes and service, along with a schedule for each of the projects. Chair Boro distributed a copy of the WTA CEO’s report to the members of the Committee.

Chair Boro highlighted the following matters of interest in the WTA CEO’s report:

  • South San Francisco: Ferry service from South San Francisco is projected to begin in December 2008.
  • New Vessels: Construction of the WTA’s first two ferryboats is underway by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Inc., with delivery of the ferryboats anticipated in the summer of 2008.
  • Service Delivery: The WTA is considering who will operate ferry service on behalf of the WTA, with the City of Alameda and AC Transit expressing interest in being the WTA’s ferry operator.


Action by the Board – None Required

   
4. Public Comment
   
 

Jerry Grace inquired regarding the composition and leadership of the WTA, and expressed interest in attending meetings of the WTA Board of Directors.

   
5. Adjournment
   
 

All business having been concluded, the meeting was declared adjourned at 9:55 a.m.

   

Respectfully submitted,
/s/ Albert J. Boro, Chair
Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee

Attachment: Safety Awareness Zone Plan