Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Crescent City Council heard details of three separate projects Monday that could result in improvements along Pebble Beach Drive.

Gary Simpson, who runs the geoscience group at SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists, described mapping that had been done between the cove between Brother Jonathan and Preston Island, and 6th Street.

“We started at Brother Jonathan because of the issues at the vista point, and the end of it crumbling away, and then we were asked to extrapolate that mapping outward,” he said.

Simpson showed old black and white photos of offshore areas around the park, which featured geologic features no longer there. Simpson said one rocky area was taken away to be used as a breakwater at the harbor, exposing softer areas below to coastal erosion.

In the area between Preston Island and Brother Jonathan lookout, drone photos showed rock and softer earth side-by side.

“This is an exercise in identifying where we have rocky outcrops that are going to be resistant to erosion and areas where we see either exposures of that weak material,” he said. “In a lot of cases, we just see the morphology of slumpy terrain.”

He said the ocean has been encroaching on the area for some time, and the short distance between the road’s edge and the bluff “leave little room for error.”

In other areas, slumping terrain is becoming a threat to city infrastructure, Simpson said.

He said one area south of the 8th Street intersection, is the most vulnerable, as incoming waves cut into soft material just below the roadway. Showing a photo of that area of Pebble Beach Drive, Simpson pointed out that the pavement is starting to drop and crack.

South of 7th Street is also slumping but Simpson said it may have a lower potential for erosion.

Mayor Pro Tem Heidi Kime asked if vegetation could be used to decrease the potential for erosion. Simpson said the only area where vegetation has a significant enough root system is near Preston Island.

“Having that geotechnical information is going to be very helpful for future projects in that area,” Project Manager Nacole Sutterfield said, following the presentation.

Firm it up

One such project is the Pebble Beach Master Plan, which would firm up the shoreline in soft areas, making it more resistant to erosion

“Nacole and I had a conversation with a Caltrans representative for Emergency Relief funding,” Interim City Manager Eric Wier said. “The ER funding is what we applied for due to the 2016 storms. That was when we started to see some really significant erosion along this whole stretch but especially there between 8th Street and 7th Street.”

After Wier explained the complicated order of funding applications, Sutterfield explained emergency relief money would be used for a bank stabilization project, which in turn, would help preserve other projects, such as the Pebble Beach Drive Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Project.

An alternative path

Jeff Schwein, of Green Dot Transportation Solutions, said his company has been working on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Project for about a year and the draft will be out for public review for 30 days. The goal of the project is to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, as well as better accessibility for all, he said.

Schwein said his firm has been collecting feedback from the community through meetings, social media and other formats.

The majority of the project centered around Brother Jonathan Park and the curved section of Pebble Beach Drive.

Three alternatives were presented, Schwein said, and the community chose the third, with a meandering bicycle trail next to the roadway through a more natural area. The option also removes the right/north turn at 9th street in favor of a right angle stop. Schwein said the intersection, with a lot of unused pavement, creates a hazard for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The third alternative also creates the biggest change to the roadway by straightening the corner somewhat, making the parking area at Brother Jonathan larger and the grassy area of the park smaller.

“That helps to clean up the intersection at 9th Street and also provides a more clear place for the cars, bicyclists and pedestrians to be,” he said, noting that larger RVs will be able to use the larger lot, as well.

He said cost estimates are between $1.2 million and $1.3 million and the State’s Active Transportation Program has funds ready for just such a project. The next funding cycle is in mid-May and applications are due July 31.

Community members can view and comment on the project by going online to the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission website, or the city’s news page under Pebble Beach Drive Option Selections.

The project will come back to the council for final approval in April or May.

Reach Tony Reed at