You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘US 101’ tag.

As long as you’re away from Willits, where it seems the entire fleet of CHP are hanging out daily.

On Monday I left for Sacramento and there were about seven or eight cars on the south side.  Today there were six cars on the north side “protecting” the survey team.

….

By the way, here’s a question for you.  Before I left for Sacramento, I consulted several map/driving directions programs out of curiosity.  Map Que mast says to take Highway 20 out of Ukiah, which has always made the most sense to me.  Google Maps sends me over Highway 36, which is odd, because last year when I wanted to get to Red Bluff, it sent me over 299.  But Jana actually had one program send her down to Petaluma, across to Vallejo, and back up 80 – which certainly doesn’t make sense if you get to Petaluma during rush hour.

Which route would you take from Eureka?

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KQED has a video and some striking photos.  (Update:  The video is down)

I know it will be unpopular for me to have anything other than a party-line opposition to the whole concept of a by-pass, but I actually have very mixed feelings about it. As somebody who has been caught in the traffic jams, occasionally for as long as a half hour (these were particularly bad days where the line of cars went almost back to the mall intersection at the south end of town), I’m concerned about the air quality of the valley with so many vehicles constantly idling during “rush hours.” That being said, there are a number of problems with the bypass as planned, and I understand why there is such vehement opposition.

Unfortunately, there’s never much room for intelligent discussions of these things, and I was in the Willits town hall at one point where I saw the exhibits intended for a meeting of four possible bypass plans, and I wonder of the extent to which many of the protesters today participated in those meetings. Something about an ounce of prevention…

It does appear that the authorities are using excessive force, and shooting anything at somebody up in a tree is at best dangerous, and in my opinion reckless.  However, there are reports that the protestor was throwing items at them, and the details as reported by the CHP, if accurate, suggest that there might be a mental health issue involved.  But the video through the above link is down, and it’s not entirely clear to me what happened. I’m going to withold opinion until I have more facts.  If anyone has more information, then please post it.

Youtube has a slew of videos.  Here are a couple of them.  For more of them, just go to youtube and type in “Willits Bypass.”

From Sohum Awareness:

CAL TRANS has announced that Hwy. 101 between Dean Creek and Sylvandale will be closed tomorrow, Thursday Oct. 25th. A “preventative blasting operation will occur” between 11:00 am to 12 noon for a period of 20 minutes. At that time there will be no traffic allowed INCLUDING EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION. CHP says they will be on both sides of the “blast” stopping traffic. Please plan accordingly & pass on the info.

Despite what the TS is calling a 2.5 million dollar “settlement.”  The article says that the Hansen family was “awarded” the settlement, and that CalTrans may appeal.  But you aren’t “awarded” a settlement, and you can’t appeal one, so I’m thinking it’s a judgment?

The article doesn’t specify, but it looks like an an eminent domain case since it pertained to an “acquisition”  of Hansen property, and the dispute was probably over the amount of the fair market value the state was required to pay to condemn it.

I suspect that the problem is that it isn’t easy to get to the restaurant from the highway anymore.  Actually, I guess it’s technically a freeway at that point now.

It’s a shame.  They cooked up a good burger.

But I should add that the revision was necessary.  I’ve made enough money off of that intersection over the years to prove as much.

My father has been stopped on the highway for about two hours.  Must have been a really bad accident.

The Caltrans page is useless.

At least my father got to hear my radio show.

Addendum: My father saw PG&E trucks pass him and figured it’s going to be a long time before the road is cleared.  The line of stopped cars extends for miles.  He’s heading back to Willits to go around via 20 and 1 (hopefully sans bicyclists).

Still no news on the Caltrans page or at the Willits News site.

The non-subscriber view of Bruce Anderson’s column leaves just enough to draw the curiosity.

RIVETING HED from Monday’s Ukiah Daily Journal, and above the fold, too: “CalTrans eases deadline on relinquishment agreement.” The story had to do with the Willits Bypass, a mythical project currently running neck and neck with Big Foot in ultimate likelihood. The Willits Bypass, given the givens of accelerating civic bankruptcy, might get half-done as work halts with a single off-ramp dead-ending at David and Ellen Drell’s house with the assurance, “Lannie Cotler. Three More Miles.”

So what happens to the matching funds if they don’t finish?  Plus they’ve already condemned a bunch of land.  Anyone know the story?

Here’s the referenced UDJ article and a more recent one on the funding.

Second close call within a week.  Seriously.  Guardian angels on overtime.

I was on my way to Eureka today, lost in thought about the meeting I was headed for.  I was maybe half a mile to a mile south of the Stafford Road exit.  The southbound lanes at that part are separated from the northbound by a hill.  I think I was still south of the Vista Point pull-off on the southbound side.  Fortunately, I follow the old Oregon rules and stay to the right unless I’m passing (I was once told that Oregon cops like to ticket California drivers for that infraction, but I never see the rule observed, if it does exist).

So I turn a curve (I’m starting to get paranoid about blind curves) and there’s a vehicle coming south in the passing lane.  I was on edge instantly, but it took a minute to register that I was not on a two-lane highway separated by dotted lines.  As it passed me I was thinking, “WTF????”

Behind me I heard skidding of tires and I looked in my rear-view mirror to see a black SUV fishtailing into the slow lane from the fast line, managing to avoid the southbound car.  It had almost stopped when it slammed into the cement wall.  By the time I came to a stop I was fully around the curve and couldn’t see what was happening.  I got 911 on my cell, but I had to get out into the open near Stafford before the dispatch woman could hear me clearly.   I decided to keep driving and started to debate whether I should go back (in the southbound lanes) when at about Rio Dell I saw a CHP vehicle moving quickly southbound with its lights on.  The 911 woman has my name in case they need a witness.

On my way back this evening I tried to figure out what happened.  It’s not possible to just wander across the lanes and end up in the wrong place.  For some time before the lanes split just north of the Vista Point pull-off, there’s a grass covered concave surface, and it turns into something of a field just before the divide.  Moreover, there are big red “Do Not Enter” signs right at the divide.  I have no idea what the story is.  Kids pulling a stunt?  Tourists unfamiliar with the road making a u-turn south of Stafford?  I’m open to suggestions.

But one thing is clear, if I was in the passing lane at that moment, the Cleary post would have been this blog’s last.  Should I thank the California-hating Oregon cops?

I guess now I’m suffering from “right-of-way entitlement syndrome.”

An article long overdue which explores some of the misunderstandings of the project and the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument.  The whole thing is worth a read, but this portion stick out to me.

In response to a question about corporate stores that are already here, EPIC’s reply was, “Your mention of existing big-box stores with their own fleets of trucks establishes that the STAA designation is not necessary.” But not necessary for whom? If the big boxes don’t need STAA access to be here, how can providing that access be the cause of their coming here? The argument seems to be circular and self-defeating. It is, of course, “necessary” for Caltrans to be in compliance with federal law — a fact that was curiously ignored at the Feb. 24 forum.

In next week’s installment of the story, Cristina explores some of the claims about business needs regarding the project, and I hope she has helped to clear up conflicting claims about whom would benefit the most – big boxes or small business.

At the end of this first installment Cristina mentions that EPIC intends to file suit on the inadequacies of the DEIR, and it does seem like there are plenty of omissions to justify criticism.  But if compliance with federal law is the issue, wouldn’t such a lawsuit simply being forestalling the inevitable?  By focusing on the DEIR rather than any explicit violations of law in the project itself, they are leaving out a key defendant in the federal government, and fundamentally whether the STAA-accommodation requirements violate federal environmental regulations.  If not, then it seems like this project is inevitable in some form.

On another point, the article confirms my take on the development issue.  While I remain agnostic on many of the issues, the whole “maintain the bottleneck to prevent development” approach is misguided.  Development is controlled by smart growth policies.  If we don’t want a big box in Eureka, or Fortuna, we push for ordinances which restrict that development, and we oppose variances such as those being sought for the Marina Center.  To the controlled growth issue, this one seems like a distraction.

The comments attached to the article raise some good points and some lame ones, but it’s the kind of discussion we need.  Like I said in a previous post, I wish someone would organize a panel debate in lieu of the one-sided pep rallies all sides organize to pump up their own positions and do little to address the nuances and factual disputes.  It should be easy to confirm whether Randy Gans is telling the truth about lobbying, since everything should be public record.  Or whether the Crescent City Home Depot takes in STAA deliveries from the north.  And I would like to see some detailed botanical analysis as to the potential danger to the roadside old growth due to the compromising of the root structures with an air spade, hot asphalt, etc.  It seems that all sides are charged up with big opinions while lacking crucial information.

And thank you again Cristina and NCJ!

I’m drafting something up about tonight’s Richardson Grove forum.  I figured others might want to chime in with thoughts before I finished.

By the way, STAA stands for Surface Transportation Assistance Act.  I didn’t know that.

….

So the panel convinced me, or would have had I not already been convinced, that the public process has been wholly deficient, and the EIR probably inadequate.  Ken Miller made a good case for the argument that the PR has only addressed the micro-issue and not taken a more broad approach to policy in terms of alternative means of getting goods in and out of the county, nor discussing the fact that STAA truck projects are in process up and down the coast.

What I’m not convinced of is that the project will have any serious environmental impact, either as far as the trees are concerned, or increased traffic.  I certainly don’t believe that the project will turn 101 into another I-5.  I remain agnostic as to whether small business or big business would be the primary beneficiaries of the larger trucks and associated reduction of costs due to offloading.  Someone asked whether small businesses might actually acquire a “competitive advantage” against big boxes.  The panelists rolled their eyes and Lauren said that the question had already been answered, but I don’t remember the answer.  Their response was that Home Depot and WalMart are pushing the project, so therefor it must be to their advantage rather than small business.

A number of alternatives were offered from the proposed short sea shipping to lights on each end of the grove allowing the larger trucks sole use of the road for certain hours at night.

We didn’t hear from any businesses in favor of the project, though Dr. Miller did address comment from Cypress Grove Cheese who say that the offloading adds over a dollar a pound for their high end cheese.  Dr. Miller responded that the people in Marin County have enough money to pay the higher prices.

Nobody addressed a recent occurrence involving the North Coast Coop in which a refrigerator was broken during an offloading incident.  Of course, an accident like that could happen when unloading at the store itself.  But it’s a story which has been circulating which will probably get some discussion in the future.

When asked about the impact on Eureka traffic, Carol Dyer noted that there is an “STAA choke point” at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Streets, which begs a few questions about how the big boxes in Crescent City will benefit in the absence of some sort of Eureka bypass.  But it wouldn’t be an issue for the Marina Center, nor any big box in Fortuna.  And of course it wouldn’t have solved the Coop’s problem at either location.  Would the trucks be sent down residential streets?  The coastline?

Concern for the roots of the trees was a consistent theme, as we all know that redwoods have shallow roots.  Someone compared the roots to peoples’ toes or something, a point which was lost on me.  There was skepticism about the promises of the technology being used.  There was aesthetic objection to the proposed retaining wall.  The owners of Singing Trees and Bigfoot chimed in not only in opposition to the project, but to what they described as the non-responsiveness of CalTrans in discussing mitigations which might help their businesses during any construction project.

The primary theme however was to “preserve the buffer.”  Right now the trees are preventing big boxes and over-development.  They said that once the access is improved we “can never go back,” although if maintaining a physical buffer or interference is the goal, maybe we shouldn’t depend on the trees.  Maybe we should just tear up the freeway and construct something like Lombard street coming down the Leggett grade.  It would be safer.

Apparently CalTrans has offered nothing in terms of an analysis of exposure to STAA truck accidents.  Jeff Hedin argued the hypocrisy of spending so much money to prevent terrorism when our highways kill so many more people.  I think it was Jeff who brought up the damage the trucks cause to the roads and asked rhetorically who would pay for it.  And actually, I once read that commercial trucks in general, not necessarily just the larger trucks, cause something like 90 percent of the road wear and tear, but between taxes and fees they pay for less than 20 percent of the price – a reality typical of a country which socializes the costs and risks, but privatize the profits.  Yes, we do subsidize the trucking industry.  Perhaps it’s sound economic policy, but the free marketers are never around to protest the socialism.

Another rallying cry tonight – the STAA trucks will “dominate the goods movement industry.”

As someone who is partially supportive of the opposition, but also skeptical about some of the claims, and as I’m getting older, I’m finding less use for “forums” which involve a one-sided panel making the soundbites which generate a Baptist worship style sing-a-long, but where we don’t actually learn much that is new.  It’s not the fault of one side.  I understand that project supporters attended the EPIC forum up north last week, but sat stone faced rather than participate in the discussion.  Everybody prefers to preach to the choir.  What I’d like to see on this issue and other local issues, such as the GPU, Marina Center Proposal, and even national issues like health care, are more debate panel discussions with questions from all sides (very often there are more than two).  The questions tonight weren’t very challenging in my opinion, sometimes mindlessly conflating issues like radioactive waste and military policy.  At least nobody linked medical marijuana or corporate personhood to the issue.  Instead we had cries from the audience, “how about the moths?  How about the salamanders?”

An amusing anecdote from the back of the room.  When Felix stood up and referenced Home Depot and Rob Arkley as culprits in the issue, two women (I know them, but I’ll leave out their names) sitting at the table in front of me looked at each other?  One said, “Arkley?  Who’s that?”  The other one shrugged.  They oppose the straightening/widening, but they obviously don’t follow big box politics.  But as Ambrose Bierce said about war, it’s “God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

The photo comes from photobucket.

The forum tonight was broadcast on KMUD and should be available in the archives.

Monday Morning Magazine this morning hosted Barbara Kennedy for the Richardson Grove upgrade opposition.  They met last week in Garberville and may pursue litigation.  They have raised a number of issues about the process, specifically that lack of adequate time for public input.  She didn’t really address impact on the grove itself, but rather the anticipated increase in traffic once the large trucks are allowed through by the straightening (as opposed to widening) and the impact on local culture as well as corporate takeover of the local economy.

Again, I lean for the straightening for reasons I’ve previously stated here.  What the opposition hasn’t really answered for me is how the widening will increase traffic.  In theory it may even reduce traffic, by eliminating the off-loading.  Basically, I’ve heard from several small business owners who tell me they actually have a better chance of competing with big boxes and chains if they don’t have to pay extra freight charges for the offloading.  Certainly WalMart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kmart, Shop4Less, Safeway, Costco and Target have not been deterred by the road, and small businesses have been going under, so I question the logic.

But I’m open to argument.  Certainly there are people who feel very strongly that we should maintain the road as a big-box-resistant bottleneck.

You can find the show on the KMUD archives.  I think the topic was discussed from 7:30 to 8:00.  And of course the opposition maintains a blog.

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