Last Chance Grade must be fixed without delay
Rarely have I been so moved by the written words of any commentary as when I read the Coastal Voices piece by Kurt Stremberg on finding a new route around Last Chance Grade (“Find new route before economy devastated,” Aug. 22).
His personal tragedy of losing both his parents at Last Chance on Highway 101 in 1972 was sobering. Kurt’s message calling for the immediate replacement of a road around the problematic Last Chance Grade was riveting.
After reading the column, I asked myself, is this our last chance for Last Chance Grade? Usually, there are two sides to any subject; not in this case. U.S. 101 at Last Chance is going to collapse and when that happens, all bets are off.
Caltrans will build an alternate route through the park and there will no discussion about fauna or flora. Even a fast-track road will take 18–36 months; all the while Del Norte County will languish and suffer, and in that process will slowly, painfully succumb.
I deferred to my senior colleague on the Board of Supervisors, District 5 Supervisor David Finigan, whose district situates within Last Chance Grade. Dave’s knowledge on Last Chance is extensive and his insight to resolve the problem is imperative.
Last Chance needs to be resolved now! In 2003, Caltrans performed a full-blown study on Last Chance and decided the best way to fix the problem is to have all the equipment and materials on site to patch up the road. For the last decade, those supplies have been stored at Wilson Creek Road.
In my opinion, that choice was regrettable. Caltrans needs to go back to that study, dust it off, and re-examine the already selected alternate route and build it!
I observed the route earlier this month. Kurt, former Supervisor Chuck Blackburn and I were escorted by the Green Diamond team. The entire detour would involve less than three miles of roads and impact the state parks by about 2 acres.
This highway must be built. The Triplicate got it right with its most appropriate headline for Kurt’s piece.
Every day there is delay is one day closer to imminent economic devastation, but there will be no shortage of human devastation wreaked upon Del Norte County residents when Last Chance goes.
Roger Gitlin, Crescent City