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US 101 and the Last Chance Grade

Started by Max Rockatansky, February 28, 2021, 07:46:12 PM

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Max Rockatansky

This previous year I revisited the Last Chance Grade of US Route 101 south of Crescent City while visiting the numerous Redwood parks of Northern California.  The Last Chance Grade as presently configured was dedicated as part of US Route 101 and the Redwood Highway during August of 1935.  The original corridor of US Route 101 was part of the Redwood Highway completed in 1920 which now now exists as Enderts Beach Road and the California Coastal Trail in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  The 1920 Redwood Highway was proceeded by the even earlier Crescent City-Requa Road which was opened as a tolled stage route completed by Del Norte County in 1895.  Presently the Last Chance Grade seems to be on it's final legs and will likely be realigned due to numerous damaging slides occurring on US Route 101 this previous decades.

https://www.gribblenation.org/2021/02/us-route-101-and-last-chance-grade.html


sparker

Quote from: Max Rockatansky on February 28, 2021, 07:46:12 PM
This previous year I revisited the Last Chance Grade of US Route 101 south of Crescent City while visiting the numerous Redwood parks of Northern California.  The Last Chance Grade as presently configured was dedicated as part of US Route 101 and the Redwood Highway during August of 1935.  The original corridor of US Route 101 was part of the Redwood Highway completed in 1920 which now now exists as Enderts Beach Road and the California Coastal Trail in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  The 1920 Redwood Highway was proceeded by the even earlier Crescent City-Requa Road which was opened as a tolled stage route completed by Del Norte County in 1895.  Presently the Last Chance Grade seems to be on it's final legs and will likely be realigned due to numerous damaging slides occurring on US Route 101 this previous decades.

https://www.gribblenation.org/2021/02/us-route-101-and-last-chance-grade.html

Hopefully Caltrans will use the realignment need as a basis for a full capacity/function improvement of US 101 along the lines of the Orick-Klamath cutoff rather than a simple replacement 2-lane facility -- or at minimum an initial 2-laner on a 4-lane ROW (with interim passing lanes). 

nexus73

Caltrans engineers came up with an inland routing back in the Eighties.  It could have been built as a 2 lane or 4 lane facility.  Too bad so much money has been spent on trying to save the unsavable.  Only one lane is currently open on Last Chance Grade. 

Rick
US 101 is THE backbone of the Pacific coast from Bandon OR to Willits CA.  Industry, tourism and local traffic would be gone or severely crippled without it being in functioning condition in BOTH states.

citrus

I saw just now that Caltrans has officially selected "Alternative F" for a new alignment of US 101 over the Last Chance Grade, estimated to complete in 2038! It includes a 6000 foot tunnel.

Press release is here. https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-1/d1-news/d1-news-release-2024-06-13

cl94

Yup, they're giving this the Devils Slide treatment. Really not much of an alternative giving the importance of the corridor. 101 is the only way to Del Norte County from the rest of the state and a tunnel ensures it remains all-season.
Please note: All posts represent my personal opinions and do not represent those of my employer or any of its partner agencies.

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pderocco

So they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

TheStranger

Quote from: pderocco on June 15, 2024, 05:57:59 AMSo they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

The inland routing ideas were rejected early on in the 10+ years that this corridor was studied (as noted in the link above).

Since Devil's Slide was mentioned a few posts earlier in the thread:

CalTrans had proposed a freeway bypass of it for years and I think San Mateo County basically sued them to force them to prioritize only a tunnel option instead.  (With that being said: the freeway bypass idea IMO was already a low-percentage concept once the 380 extension from 280 to 1 was nixed in the late 70s, especially since the Linda Mar area of Pacifica was already developed fully by then and there's no neat way to connect the Devil's Slide portion with the existing Route 1 freeway in the northern part of town)
Chris Sampang

Max Rockatansky

Who was it that was complaining about California never being able to build highway tunnels?  All it seemingly takes is unsolvable long term landslides that aren't in Big Sur.

Regarding Devils Slide, I always wonder if Pedro Mountain Road had been maintained if 1 hypothetically would have reverted to it? 

kkt

I hope the rock is stable enough that the tunnel will stay put, once it's built.

I also hope I get to see it.

Bruce

Quote from: pderocco on June 15, 2024, 05:57:59 AMSo they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

Old-growth redwoods are in short supply, and kind of the reason that area has such a major tourist draw. Destroying a bunch would rile up just about everyone.
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roadman65

Well the money they keep pouring to remove dirt from landslides is costing a lot. Those funds to realign will eventually pay for itself after not spending anything to reopen the buried highway.
Every day is a winding road, you just got to get used to it.

Sheryl Crowe

Max Rockatansky

#11
Quote from: Bruce on June 15, 2024, 06:42:47 PM
Quote from: pderocco on June 15, 2024, 05:57:59 AMSo they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

Old-growth redwoods are in short supply, and kind of the reason that area has such a major tourist draw. Destroying a bunch would rile up just about everyone.

The Coast Redwoods probably don't need the blanket level of protection Sequoias get.  A lot Coast groves which were previously logged have grown back fairly quickly. 

It isn't as though a project like this is driving urban growth or expanding the capacity of US 101.   This and bypassing Richardson Grove are both projects which should have been taken care long ago in the interest of traffic safety.

cl94

While they don't need the level of protection, per se, it saves Caltrans a crapton of headaches and lawsuits by doing what they can to protect old-growth redwoods. It may mean the difference between the bypass getting built and not.

And moving the road inland may not fully save it from issues. Slides can happen virtually anywhere there's a slope in California, so moving it underground means there won't be a slide period. And never mind the issues with trees in atmospheric river events.

(personal opinion emphasized)
Please note: All posts represent my personal opinions and do not represent those of my employer or any of its partner agencies.

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Quillz

Quote from: Bruce on June 15, 2024, 06:42:47 PM
Quote from: pderocco on June 15, 2024, 05:57:59 AMSo they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

Old-growth redwoods are in short supply, and kind of the reason that area has such a major tourist draw. Destroying a bunch would rile up just about everyone.
Yes, I was going to say something similar. I'm one of those people who cares a great deal about "a few old-growth redwood trees." It's the reason I go to that area in the first place, and will be going back there this fall. If it wasn't for environmentalist groups in the early 20th century, we'd have no redwood groves at all today. The few that remain were saved by the 1920s or so.

Plutonic Panda

Quote from: Max Rockatansky on June 15, 2024, 02:06:58 PMWho was it that was complaining about California never being able to build highway tunnels?  All it seemingly takes is unsolvable long term landslides that aren't in Big Sur.

Regarding Devils Slide, I always wonder if Pedro Mountain Road had been maintained if 1 hypothetically would have reverted to it? 
Right, I said California has never been able to build a tunnel. Why don't you calm down there skipper and see if this actually gets built until mocking me about the Unite States' inability to build tunnels nowadays even if this one single tunnel gets built. Somewhere along the line I must've struck a nerve with you. Not sure why.

However, despite all of that, I am very happy to hear they are considering a tunnel here as the preferred alternative.

Max Rockatansky

Push come to shove the Tom Lantos Tunnels got built amid similar circumstances.  We aren't talking about a freeway corridor through a mountain range or under a dense urban area.

Plutonic Panda

Cool and there's tons of transit tunnels being built as well. Maybe I'm just not explaining myself clearly enough max idk

Max Rockatansky

The amusing thing is that I wasn't even really making a tongue in cheek reference to you in Post #7. I feel that I should at least do you the courtesy of letting you know that before this turns into a back and forth.

Rothman

Quote from: Plutonic Panda on June 16, 2024, 05:12:41 AM
Quote from: Max Rockatansky on June 15, 2024, 02:06:58 PMWho was it that was complaining about California never being able to build highway tunnels?  All it seemingly takes is unsolvable long term landslides that aren't in Big Sur.

Regarding Devils Slide, I always wonder if Pedro Mountain Road had been maintained if 1 hypothetically would have reverted to it? 
Right, I said California has never been able to build a tunnel.

Lots of tunnels in CA...
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

Plutonic Panda

Quote from: Rothman on June 16, 2024, 11:35:04 AM
Quote from: Plutonic Panda on June 16, 2024, 05:12:41 AM
Quote from: Max Rockatansky on June 15, 2024, 02:06:58 PMWho was it that was complaining about California never being able to build highway tunnels?  All it seemingly takes is unsolvable long term landslides that aren't in Big Sur.

Regarding Devils Slide, I always wonder if Pedro Mountain Road had been maintained if 1 hypothetically would have reverted to it? 
Right, I said California has never been able to build a tunnel.

Lots of tunnels in CA...
There sure are.

kkt

Quote from: pderocco on June 15, 2024, 05:57:59 AMSo they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

It takes thousands of years to make a large old-growth tree, and those trees are key to their whole ecosystem.

Maybe you haven't been keeping up with inflation, but just about every project worth doing costs in the billions these days.

And I'm not at all sure relocating the highway inland would help.  The whole coast range is unstable and prone to landslides.  To really get out of the landslide area you'd probably have to relocate the highway to I-5, which would kind of defeat the purpose of the highway giving access to California's north coast.  I guess we could abandon the North Coast...


pderocco

Quote from: kkt on June 16, 2024, 01:13:19 PM
Quote from: pderocco on June 15, 2024, 05:57:59 AMSo they're going to spend a couple billion dollars to save a few hundred "large-diameter old-growth redwood trees"? The hell with the trees, just move the road inland off the steep slope.

It takes thousands of years to make a large old-growth tree, and those trees are key to their whole ecosystem.

Maybe you haven't been keeping up with inflation, but just about every project worth doing costs in the billions these days.

And I'm not at all sure relocating the highway inland would help.  The whole coast range is unstable and prone to landslides.  To really get out of the landslide area you'd probably have to relocate the highway to I-5, which would kind of defeat the purpose of the highway giving access to California's north coast.  I guess we could abandon the North Coast...

Environmentalists never seem to have much of a sense of proportion. Even if the relocated road went smack dab through the thickest part of the old-growth grove, it wouldn't reduce the number of old-growth trees by even a percent, which hardly seems like a recipe for ecological collapse. And at least the people in the cars would be able to do the things they say they go there for: look at the trees. You can't do that from inside a tunnel.

But I'm not even talking about that. Peruse the area in Google Earth. Going from south to north, a thousand-foot piece of road off the current alignment, just north of the overlook, would get out of the Redwoods Park on a fairly gentle grade. Then, it could travel along the edge of an area that has obviously been logged in the past century, and therefore has no old-growth trees, perhaps just west of the power line corridor. This is as nearly flat as the rest of the road up to Crescent City, which doesn't seem to be slide-plagued. Then, another thousand-foot connector in the Park back to the current alignment. It wouldn't cost anything to remove the trees--logging companies would be bidding to pay for the privilege.

What people will miss from any realignment has nothing to do with trees, it's the loss of the ocean view. But there's plenty of that along US-101 and CA-1.

Rothman

I'm against plowing through a redwood forest, but pderocco's take on this would garner many a stare or laugh during outreach related to NEPA...
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

cl94

Quote from: Rothman on June 16, 2024, 04:48:54 PMI'm against plowing through a redwood forest, but pderocco's take on this would garner many a stare or laugh during outreach related to NEPA...

CEQA would be the bigger problem here. Coast redwoods are endangered, cutting a ton down is a non-starter if any alternative exists. Old-growth redwoods in particular are untouchable. This is a lot of why US 101 is substandard through Richardson Grove. Whether or not coast redwoods need the level of protection they have in California is irrelevant given that they are protected and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Please note: All posts represent my personal opinions and do not represent those of my employer or any of its partner agencies.

Travel Mapping (updated weekly)

Quillz

Quote from: Plutonic Panda on June 16, 2024, 05:12:41 AM
Quote from: Max Rockatansky on June 15, 2024, 02:06:58 PMWho was it that was complaining about California never being able to build highway tunnels?  All it seemingly takes is unsolvable long term landslides that aren't in Big Sur.

Regarding Devils Slide, I always wonder if Pedro Mountain Road had been maintained if 1 hypothetically would have reverted to it? 
Right, I said California has never been able to build a tunnel. Why don't you calm down there skipper and see if this actually gets built until mocking me about the Unite States' inability to build tunnels nowadays even if this one single tunnel gets built. Somewhere along the line I must've struck a nerve with you. Not sure why.

However, despite all of that, I am very happy to hear they are considering a tunnel here as the preferred alternative.
Why did you say "they've never been able to build a tunnel" when there are a lot of tunnels in California, including the Tom Lantos Tunnels from only a decade ago?



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