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Climate change workshop Tuesday to look at roads

Road construction crews battle erosion at Last Chance Grade, a notoriously unstable section of Highway 101. Submitted
Road construction crews battle erosion at Last Chance Grade, a notoriously unstable section of Highway 101. Submitted
Rising sea levels and heavier rainfall from climate change is expected to cause even more erosion for a notoriously unstable section of Highway 101 south of Crescent City known as Last Chance Grade, and a public workshop Tuesday will explore how the road system can adapt in the future.

A public workshop about how climate change will affect the region’s state road system — specially Last Chance Grade — will be held from 6–7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center, 2298 Norris Ave., Crescent City.

In California, climate change is expected to cause warmer temperatures and heavier rainfall, which will cause greater potential for flash floods and erosion.

“There will be increased impacts because the precipitation happens faster and harder,” said Jessica Hall, a landscape architect with GHD, the geo-engineering consultants working on the project.  “It will increase the erosion that is happening on the surface and that will also undermine the road at that area.”

Additionally, “Sea-level rise will eat at the toe of that bluff, which is sliding,” Hall said.

Last Chance Grade is one of four areas on the North Coast is that is being targeted by local governments and Caltrans to identify methodology that might be used to identify how to adapt to climate change.

The other three areas are South Highway 101 along Humboldt Bay north of Eureka; at the mouth of the Garcia River (south of Point Arena); and along portions of State Route 20 (northwest of Clear Lake), which are all expected to be subject to greater and more frequent flooding as a result of climate change.

One of the options for Last Chance Grade that has been studied as a result of the project is the re-routing of Highway 101 farther inland even though this option may impact some old-growth redwoods held in Del Norte‚ÄąCoast Redwoods State Park.

The work being done for this study will also address climate change impacts not specific to the four pilot sites.

“Sea-level rise is expected to contribute to coastal erosion that could eat at the toe of bluffs and cause bluffs to erode towards development,” Hall said. 
“The issues we raise will be applicable to much larger topics of discussion.”

All of the final recommendations and information that is being produced as a result of the climate change project is expected to be released in 
December.

The website, northcoastclimatechange.com, will be used to present  to the public findings and recommendations of the project.

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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