Keeping People at the Table, Long-Term
Highway 101 just below Crescent City 101 passes through old growth redwoods, salmon habitat and the homelands of four federally recognized tribes. But a 3 mile section, known as Last Chance Grade, is slowly deteriorating due to geological instability. The road can be terrifying to drive in bad weather and emergency repairs are required after almost every major storm. But there is no alternate route and studies estimate that a sustained closure could result in as much as a billion dollars in lost economic activity.
There is no easy alternative. Finding a long-term solution will require a multi-year, multi-partner strategy that helps keep everyone moving forward in the same direction to identify and evaluate potential alternatives. To achieve this, Caltrans developed a sustained, in-depth multi-partner outreach strategy to keep people engaged and to report progress and key milestones.
Caltrans formed an MOU to guide coordination with the four federally recognized tribes, public agencies with land management responsibilities and a large private landowner. Technical working groups for the biological and cultural resources continue to meet regularly to ensure that geological and environmental studies can proceed as needed,
Caltrans continues to conduct outreach activities with its partners and the community: workshops and open houses, mailings to Del Norte County residents, social media and an up-to-date website with animated video help people understand the alternatives and the complex terrain that must be navigated. The public now understands that a permanent solution is not something Caltrans can do alone. It will take time for environmental studies, geological analysis and eventual construction—and local support is essential.
Winner of the 2019 NorCal Chapter American Planning Association Award of Merit for Public Outreach.