Triplicate Staff

14 alternatives now down to eight

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman's stakeholder group, formed in April to discuss what to do about Last Chance Grade before it slides into the ocean, was able to come to a consensus on a number of items over the last several months, a press release announced Friday.

"The stakeholder group's efforts paved the way for a permanent solution to the troubled stretch of U.S. Highway 101 south of Crescent City. While there is still significant technical information that is needed for the group to reach agreement on specific routes, this paper represents a big step forward," Huffman said.

The 20-person group includes members of environmental groups, businesses, government and elected officials, tribes and landowners, who were brought together to discuss routes and hash out their impacts on cultural and natural resources, as well as lay the groundwork for allocating funding.

Given the highway saddles active slides through old growth redwood forest, near areas of great importance to local tribes, the project is more complex than most others, the group agreed.

The stakeholders agreed in September the need to identify a solution is urgent, maintaining the highway as is is not an option and it's crucial for groups to be willing to come to a compromise in order for the project to go forward.

Eight of the 14 alternatives proposed by Caltrans in January were eliminated from consideration during their meetings. Further analysis will need to be done to pare the options down further, and finding the money to enable Caltrans to conduct these studies is a priority, the consensus reads.

"The entire community needs to be invested in this planning effort to ensure the long-term safety and economy of the region," the release said.

Realigning Last Chance Grade is slated to cost at least a $225 million and environmental studies are scheduled to be completed in 2026, which will allow Caltrans to chose an alternate route.