Hard to believe, perhaps, but one quarter of 2021 is in the books. I had hope to get out a highway page update in March, but it is slower going than I expected. So I get to add one more headline post to the mix, slowing it down even further. On the plus side, the first of the Moderna shots has been achieved, bringing closer the day that I’ll go out for a roadtrip. So here are the headlines and other things of interest that I collected during the month of March. As I always say, “ready, set, discuss”.
[Ħ Historical information | ＄ Paywalls and ∅ other annoying restrictions: SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; OCR/Orange County Register; VN/Valley News; PE/Press Enterprise; LBPT/Long Beach Press Telegram; DB/Daily Breeze; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; LAT/LA Times; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; FB/Fresno Bee; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; MH/Monterey Herald; SONN/Sonoma News; SJMN/Mercury News; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; SFG/SF Gate; EBT/East Bay Times; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; SBJ/Sacramento Business Journal; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; MIJ/Marin Independent-Journal; NVR/Napa Valley Register; PD/Press Democrat; AC/Argus Courier; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News; AD/Yuba Sutter Colusa County Appeal Democrat; DNT/Del Norte Triplicate; NW/Newsweek; UKT/The Telegraph (UK) ]
- Driving apps divert motorists to dangerous mountain road. The U.S. Forest Service warned people not to trust their driving apps and GPS devices after hearing from motorists the apps were diverting them to Salmon River Road. That happened after people posted on social media they were searching for alternative routes to a stretch of state Route 96 that is partially blocked by a mudslide.
- ＄/DNT Significant slide activity continues to hamper Last Chance Grade. U.S. Highway 101 was open to one-lane travel Tuesday night after another week of landslide activity blocked the road at Last Chance Grade. Crews have been working on the road since last week, when precipitation caused the hillside above the highway to crumble down, blocking both lanes for extended periods of time. As of Tuesday evening, crews warned motorists of possible 30-minute delays overnight, as well as three-hour delays scheduled between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to allow for removal and prevention work.
- ‘The Big Sur we all dream about’: Why some residents are delighted that Highway 1 collapsed. In late January, an atmospheric river dumped heavy rains over the Dolan Fire scar, triggering a debris flow in Big Sur that overwhelmed drainage infrastructure and carried a giant chunk of Highway 1 thousands of feet down the cliff and into the sea. The dramatic slide left behind a 150-foot chasm where the road once was at mile marker 30, another beautiful stretch of California land reclaimed by the elements. Friends and family members living on opposite sides of the hole were separated. Residents living to the south were cut off from basic services, schools and jobs in the north. The postmaster had to start going the long way around, as did angry tourists attempting to visit from or return to LA. And yet, for some residents, this “disaster” was exactly what they had been waiting for.
- State Route 84 Ferry Service Restarts After Temporary Closure. Caltrans has restarted the State Route 84 ferry service after the ferry boat – The Real McCoy II – passed its inspection required by the Coast Guard every five years. The ferry is classified as an extension of State Route 84. It provides service to Ryer Island residents and its visitors by crossing the Cache Slough to Rio Vista.
- Did You Know That the 101 Freeway Widening Project Has an Aquatic Resource Biologist?. In this, the Journal’s third profile of the people who work behind the scenes in the biggest infrastructure project to hit Montecito in recent memory, we meet Sarah Sandstrom, Caltrans’ aquatic resource manager. According to Tim Gubbins, Caltrans District 5 Director, Sandstrom is a key player in the agency’s effort to protect the environment as it widens the 101 freeway. “Sarah is a highly educated and trained biologist,” Gubbins said. “She is a valued member of our biologist team and focuses her skills on helping our project meet high environmental standards and improve wetland and habitat areas as part of this larger congestion-relief project. Our construction projects benefit the larger community in many ways, and our work on improving wetlands and habitat areas near the freeway is important for all of us.”
- PCH: Climate change threatens California’s ‘highway at the edge’. Soaring mountains on one side of the road and the Pacific Ocean on the other: It was 1956, and Gary Griggs was experiencing California State Route 1 for the first time. He was a child, but in the following decades he would drive this scenic stretch of road, called the Pacific Coast Highway, dozens of times. He also would learn how fragile it is. In 2017, Griggs consulted on a major repair to the highway as an erosion expert. Now, he says, the iconic road’s days may be numbered – at least in its current form.