City, state officials ease tensions on radio towers

April 15, 2003 11:00 pm

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Angels Camp and California Department of Transportation officials met yesterday afternoon to resolve a disagreement over placement of a radio tower in the city's downtown area.

The issue sparked last week, when Vice Mayor Curly Middleton noticed Caltrans crews digging a hole beside the sidewalk on Monte Verde Street.

City Building Inspector Jim Oakes told the contractor he needed city permits to put up the Caltrans radio antenna that would broadcast traffic information to area travelers.

When Oakes visited the site a few days later, it appeared two holes had been dug in the street and patched.

That's when the city issued a stop-work order, but the city was told its order doesn't have any effect on state projects.

Several city officials met yesterday with Caltrans officials including Dinah Bortner, who oversees maintenance and operations for District 10, which includes Angels Camp; Julie Dunning, deputy district director for administration; and Robert Spradling, chief of the executive services branch.

Mayor Debbie Ponte, Middleton, Oakes, City Engineer Gary Ghio and others held a closed session with the Caltrans representatives, then went to the site of the 30-foot-deep hole that will hold the new antenna.

The hole is about 7 feet from a sidewalk where children ride bicycles and skateboards, city officials said. Caltrans agreed to run a fence between the sidewalk and the new antenna.

Shearer had also expressed concerns about aesthetics of the broadcast antenna but Bortner said it looks like a light pole and should be inconspicuous.

She said the antenna could not be located anywhere else on Caltrans property because there is already a low-band antenna used to communicate with Caltrans workers out in the field. The low-band antenna would interfere with the new antenna's traveler-advisory broadcasts.

Once the new radio tower is up and operating — about six weeks from now — its broadcast signal would cover about three miles.