Redwood to fall during highway closure

Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Caltrans plans to shut 101 south of Crescent City Sunday

There will be a full closure of U.S. Highway 101 south of Crescent City starting at 9 a.m. Sunday as Caltrans undertakes the removal of a large, hollowed-out, old-growth redwood that is in immediate danger of falling on the highway.

Although full closures of a main artery highway like the North Coast's portion of 101 would typically be done at night, the dangerous nature of removing several tons of material ready to slide makes daylight operation necessary, according to Scott Burger, spokesman for Caltrans District 1.

The full 101 closure will be from just south of Hamilton Road to 0.6 miles south of the Mill Creek Campground entrance. The stretch is expected to reopen with one-way traffic control by 5 p.m. Sunday at the latest.

The large redwood, described as hollowed by fire and rotted, is expected to come down uncontrolled if not addressed.

"We worked with state parks in order to identify anything that was going to come down. This is all material subject to coming down," Burger said.

The slide area with the large redwood perched above it is roughly one mile south of Hamilton Road, and was identified as a problem in November 2012. After a series of heavy rainstorms, a large slide covered the highway, bringing a 5-foot-diameter redwood down with it.

Despite Caltrans' efforts, the slide continued to grow in a southern direction. The hydro-seeded area has been a noticeable scar on the east side of 101 ever since.

Caltrans installed horizontal drains in an attempt to remove groundwater and stabilize the area, but it continues to release material after rainstorms.

Roughly 200 tons of material came down from this location after the mid-February storms.

The most up-to-date information regarding the reopening of the highway will be found on Caltrans District 1's Facebook page (,) and road updates will also be posted to the websites of Caltrans and California Highway Patrol.

Tamera Leighton, executive director of the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission, raised concerns about a full highway closure during the day and the short notice, but Caltrans officials said they were seizing upon a window of calm weather and that daylight is needed for the dangerous work.

Reach Adam Spencer at .

The Del Norte Triplicate
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