<b>Rail crossings</b>

EDITOR: Over the past several years, several hundred apartments have been built on the west side of Range Avenue near Jennings Avenue, and there are plans for many more apartments in the same area ("Crossing swap weighed," Thursday).

Currently, there are only three exits from the area, all congested — at Range and Guerneville Road, at Cleveland Avenue and Steele Lane and at Cleveland and College Avenue. If there were a major accident — a large fire or chemical spill on the freeway — that could be catastrophic. The solution is an automobile and pedestrian rail crossing on Jennings, connecting to North Dutton Avenue.

Dutton is a major north-south road, and it would give access to the College Avenue and Guerneville Road, adding two major exits to the area and reducing congestion at the current three exits.

Somebody in Santa Rosa city government should show some concern for the safety of the neighborhood. I do not know why a downtown rail crossing must be eliminated. I am a strong supporter of SMART, and I am sure SMART agrees with the state Public Utilities Commission, but rules can be changed.


Santa Rosa

<b>What would Teddy do?</b>

EDITOR: I was happy to see Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visit California to see a beautiful area along the coast called the Stornetta Public Lands ("A coastal roadshow," Nov. 2). More than 200 community members attended her town hall meeting to support adding the land to the California Coastal National Monument. Unfortunately, over the past three years, Congress has failed to protect a single additional acre of public land. The bill to protect Stornetta, along with a dozen other bills to increase protections on our public lands, is stuck in Congress.

More than 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt, similarly stifled by an inability to get Congress to act, was the first president to use his authority to protect public landscapes. I have to wonder, if he were president today, what would Teddy do?

I look to President Barack Obama to follow in Roosevelt's footsteps and use his authority to permanently protect California's last pristine public landscapes, including the Stornetta Public Lands.



<b>Was Carrillo set up?</b>

EDITOR: My fellow voters need to ask these questions: In what constituents' activities was Supervisor Efren Carrillo involved on the day in question? What was his last activity? Who offered him a drink? Who is the accuser? Was it a set-up? Who would benefit from damaging his reputation? Why haven't those with information stepped forward?

Ladies don't need to fear. Carrillo is not the monster we portray him to be. Instead of ganging up against him, we should let those investigating do their job. What if we throw the first rock at the wrong sinner? We are all interested in solving this case so that Carrillo can continue to carry out projects in benefit of the community.

Where is the fairness in this, our country, with justice for all?


Santa Rosa

<b>A better bypass</b>

EDITOR: Whether it was a good idea or not, Caltrans has moved ahead building a six-mile, two-lane first-phase Highway 101 bypass of Willits. However, there are problems.

Caltrans' permit required mitigating the loss of about 70 acres of wetlands (the largest wetland fill in Northern California in a half-century). The recent bid for constructing the mitigation lands was $39 million — three times Caltrans' estimate.

The project shouldn't have proceeded without wetland mitigation, and further damage should cease. But abandoning the partly built project would be a travesty.

Fortunately, there is a solution: downsizing the 40-acre, interstate-highway-style northern interchange. A simple intersection or roundabout (both already designed by Caltrans) would connect the two-lane bypass to the two-lane highway north of Willits. It could:

; Avoid paving 30 acres of wetlands.

; Avoid further destruction of Pomo cultural sites.

; Substantially reduce the amount of fill, water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

; Allow wick drains to be removed or remain unactivated.

; Eliminate four bridges.

; Significantly reduce project costs.

This common-sense revision would enable completion of construction while saving taxpayers' money and minimizing impacts. Moreover, this design change aims toward the carbon-reducing, sustainable transportation policy we clearly need.



<b>Dangerous toys</b>

EDITOR: As a retired member of the armed forces and law officer, I see the shooting of Andy Lopez as a tragedy. I would strongly state that there is no such thing as a toy gun. They can be just as deadly.

We will probably never know for certain what fears went through the minds of the deputies and Andy Lopez in those few split seconds. However, if a member of the public wishes to brandish such a toy in a local Starbucks, or a bank, I can imagine what the reaction would be from law enforcement and the public. It would be extreme.

When we buy such items as toy guns or BB guns, remember that police officers, and members of the public don't know if they're real and capable of inflicting tragedies such as the Sandy Hook school shooting, in which 20 children were killed, or are just pieces of plastic.

Split-second decisions have to be made that may save many lives. If we wish to make and carry these toy weapons, then I fear there will be many more such tragedies.

A gun, be it real or a look-alike toy, is still deadly to the observer.