Slippery slope

Ongoing slide activity at Last Chance Grade has caused massive traffic interruptions as CalTrans works to clean up Highway 101.

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U.S. Highway 101 was open to one-lane travel Tuesday night after another week of landslide activity blocked the road at Last Chance Grade.

Crews have been working on the road since last week, when precipitation caused the hillside above the highway to crumble down, blocking both lanes for extended periods of time.

As of Tuesday evening, crews warned motorists of possible 30-minute delays overnight, as well as three-hour delays scheduled between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to allow for removal and prevention work.

“We will continue constant monitoring of the slide and will provide updates here as we receive them,” Caltrans District 1 officials wrote in Facebook updates Tuesday. “Thank you very much to our crews, our slide catchment and those motorists maintaining patience and attentiveness for keeping the slide area safe.”

According to CalTrans, the only recommended alternate route between Crescent City and Eureka takes drivers on U.S. Highway 199 to Grants Pass, then south on Interstate 5 to Redding and east on State Route 299 to Eureka.

California Highway Patrol reminded drivers this week that alternate routes, like the G-O Road and other Forest Roads were also impassible due to winter weather.

During the closures, those across the county felt the impacts.

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office said it has received assistance from the Humboldt County Sherriff’s Office, Cal-Ore Life Flight, CHP and the Yurok Tribal Police to ensure the Klamath area saw law enforcement coverage even during the closure.

"With support from HSO, CHP, Cal Ore Life Flight and the YTP we were able to keep law enforcement service to Klamath,” Sheriff Erik Apperson wrote in a statement Tuesday. “They all stepped up immediately and in a major way. I hardly had time to even ask for their help before they were on the way. I am truly grateful for their service and commitment to our region."

Helicopter footage from the sheriff’s office posted Sunday showed the dramatic extent of the slide, with mounts of rock and downed trees covering the hillside and the highway below.

Students and families also faced the impacts of the slide: Bus service from Klamath was canceled for those south of Last Chance Grade for the week, forcing those students to attend classes online.

“Even though Last Chance Grade is open for one-way traffic, due to safety concerns and the frequency of slides, we have determined that students living south of Last Chance Grade will not attend in-person schooling for the remainder of the week,” Del Norte Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Harris wrote in an update Monday. “Instead, they will participate in distance learning until the slide has stabilized. Food will still be available through curbside pickup at Margaret Keating school.”

The status of the road is constantly evolving. Caltrans is continuing to post updates to its Facebook page at, and officials recommend limiting travel through the area to essential trips.

The highway’s latest status is available online at


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