Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

One-way controlled traffic was still moving around a landslide at mile marker 14.7, on Last Chance Grade Wednesday but Caltrans officials say it’s not known when it will be cleared entirely.

Since the slide blocked the highway overnight Sunday, controlled traffic has been getting around it in the southbound lane. However, on Monday night, the highway was again closed for a few hours.

Caltrans spokesman Myles Cochrane said after Caltrans experts looked at the slide area, they decided to close it again from 7:25 p.m. to about 10 p.m.

“The truth was that they anticipated some more slide activity so they closed it,” Cochrane said. “That kept people safe and they reopened it a few hours later.”

Cochrane praised state and contracted personnel for their work and monitoring at the slide site.

“We’ll be monitoring it closely,” he said. “It’s possible that additional slide material will come down when we’re clearing it. We’ll close it again if we have to, because our number one priority is to keep people safe and our second is to keep the highway open.”

Cochrane said personnel will re-evaluate the slide and surrounding area once storms pass.

As of Wednesday afternoon, crews remained on scene and monitoring continued, Cochrane said.

“We continue to encourage people to check their routes before going anywhere,” he said. “We just have to bear with Mother Nature during the North Coast storm season.”

Notification frustration

During the Tuesday regular meeting, District 1 Supervisor Bob Berkowitz disclosed he was caught on the south side of the slide Sunday night and expressed dissatisfaction with the response to the slide.

“For over an hour, there was no notification, I want to let you know, by the CHP or Caltrans,” he told the board, “until I notified them that the highway was, in fact, closed.”

Berkowitz called Caltrans’ 511 system “totally useless,” saying “it would not even list Highway 101 in Northern California as part of their system.”

Berkowitz said he spend most of the night and part of the morning notifying Klamath residents of the slide and closure.

“We really need to work with them on Highway 101 or at least, the 511 system,” he said.

Cochrane said the 511 system is only available in urban areas, such as the Bay Area, Sacramento, Inland Empire, and southern California, and is not operated by Caltrans District 1.

“We contribute to it, but it’s not something we operate here,” he said.

“Real-time traveler information enables the traveling public to make informed transportation choices,” according to the Caltrans website. “511 is a three-digit dialing code designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2000, making it easy for users to access traveler information services. The current 511 three-digit number routes the call to the region the traveler is calling from, for region-specific information.”