May 24, 2019
by Patty Ginochio, Ginochio’s Kitchen & Sonoma Concierge.
With over 4 – 6 Million visitors traveling through Bodega Bay on Highway 1, sections of the road have deteriorated so much that for the safety of motorists & bicyclists, two sections have immediately been reduced to a single lane.
Last night, May 24th, Caltrans showed up in force to discuss the repair projects and the sudden closures, concentrating on two areas directly impacting Highway 1 through Bodega Bay – Just South of Bay Hill Road& then at Gleason Beach. The meeting was well-attended with approximately 75 locals, standing room only. Caltrans listened to concerns and answered questions.
Julie Schneider, a homeowner in Bodega Bay stated,“With only two lanes to work with, there really isn’t a perfect solution, but I thought the representatives from Caltrans and the County encouraging feedback and suggestions from the Community was a great start in an effort to make it as painless as possible.”
THE GOOD NEWS is the lane closures are just “past” the main part of town as you go North.
THE BAD NEWS is if you are heading to the State Beaches including the main surfing beach of Salmon Creek, you will experience a delay at Bay Hill and if heading to Jenner, you will encounter the Gleason Beach lane closure.
Employees of Caltrans, known as a Flaggers, will be working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the Highway 1 just south of Bay Hill Road can be repaired which is expected to take a few months. The tight limited view turn makes it impossible to utilize traffic control lights rather than Flaggers. This will also help move traffic much faster since it is not on a timer which can extend the delay. No plans have been finalized as to how they are going to repair the road and replace the damaged culvert although they are fast-tracking it for permits.
Bodega Bay had heard one consideration was traffic would be diverted to Bay Hill Road which locals know is dangerous, boasts some of the worst potholes in Sonoma County, and one lane wide in many places where larger vehicles including RV’s, boats and commercial trucks cannot safely drive. Bay Hill is on the county list to be repaved in 2020/21. It is also Bodega Bay’s Emergency Tsunami & Disaster Evacuation route. Bay Hill Road has been referred to as a “Goat Trail” due to its poor condition. Caltrans put the plans on hold to divert traffic via Bay Hill Road after listening to the concerns, and driving it after the meeting.
Locals reported the deteriorating roadway just south of Bay Hill Road on February 19th to Caltrans with no response. Eventually, Caltrans placed some small white markers because the roadway sluffed off up to the side white line with a gaping hole underneath what was left of the roadway.
Last week Caltrans put small A-frame flashers alerting drivers of danger. This week they shut the lane down. Locals wanted to know why it took so long and still no approved plan in place to fix? County has promised to expedite the permits and repairs should be completed over the next few months.
The Gleason Beach project has been a long, drawn-out mess for Caltrans. It is the eyesore section where homes have fallen into the ocean and the road is going with them. The recent closure to one lane with traffic lights is now in place. Over $10 Million in band-aid fixes has been spent to unsuccessfully shore up the roadway and it is expected to cost over $60 Million when finally completed in 5 years. Emergency repairs of 1,000 feet of roadway are scheduled over the next few months to keep Highway 1 open until the major repairs can be completed. If the road were to be completely closed, motorists would have to drive a 45-minute detour.
One concern for the Bodega Bay Fire & Paramedics is how to timely respond to an emergency with the road closures. With lives at stake in the numerous rescues on the beaches, especially during the upcoming high tourism season, how will they get around these delays and possible detours? Caltrans promised to work closely with them to develop a plan which may even include staging emergency vehicles on both sides of the road closures.
Bodega Bay residents expressed they want to become a “priority” to Caltrans. Waiting until the road's collapse is not safe. There are several other areas that need to be put on an immediate list for repairs or the town will be completely shut down such as the hill that is coming down where the local church sits. Caltrans said it is needs repair, but it is on a long waiting list. They promised to review all roadways that need to become a priority after the meeting.
Norma Jellison, a well-known and respected resident said “I thought it was one of the best meetings from standpoint of listening to the community and being responsive on the spot - like suggesting the Quickmap app to get real-time updates, explaining why one way control was put in place, even though Memorial Day weekend, was due to worsening road failure & concern for public safety, committing to flaggers at both one way control areas, cooperating with Fire Dept to prioritize emergency access AND assuring there will be no detours via Bay Hill! In attendance was the Director of District 4, Tony Tavares.”
This is the first time a high-level representative from Caltrans has come to one of these meetings. Michelle Tucker, Acting Chief Deputy for Caltrans, presented the plans and responded in a positive manner to the suggestions from the residents.
Although Supervisor Hopkins could not attend the meeting, she worked hard on our behalf with Caltrans. Bodega Bay has found our voice(s) and will actively participate in all decisions that impact our community.
“We appreciate the opportunity to share open dialogue and productive discussions with residents and business owners last night. We are committed to continue working closely with all stakeholders including the community and the County of Sonoma as we work to provide safe and sustainable solutions that work in unique Sonoma coastal towns. Highway 1 remains open for business and Caltrans is working to keep delays to a minimum so visitors can still enjoy the Bodega Bay Area.” ~ Michelle Tucker, Acting Chief Deputy Director, District 4
Residents and visitors can find real-time closure and traffic updates at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.
If you would like to receive updates & meeting notices from Caltrans on these projects contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist3/gleasonbeachroadway/ for Gleason Beach updates.
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