By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – April 24, 2021
It appears that the “powers” in Sacramento have made their decision on
what to do with Last Chance Grade and it looks like Del Norte County
will be expected to endure more half way measures. Our illustrious
state senator, Mark McGuire, has announced the opinions of state and get
this, federal officials, that only two choices remain after $50,000,000
of geologic and environmental studies for a solution to the failing
roadway at Last Chance Grade.
The two choices are, wait for it:
1.) A mile long tunnel estimated to cost between $1.2 billion and $2 billion.
Naturally, if it were to be built, the likelihood of it costing what
government estimates, is a pipe dream of the highest order.
2.) This is for all intents a much bigger band aid, or rather the whole box. The intent is to substantially shore up the existing right a way
The announcement goes on to talk about shaving $10 million and a year
off the project, although it is not clear which alternative that bit of
spin is meant to identify. Since it is preposterous to think that
Sacramento would pony up several billion dollars to address our “minor”
issue, it seems that band aids are in order. Clearly the overland
alternatives were viewed from the eyes of our local environatzies, as
litigation was mentioned as the sole reason in the statement for
eliminating the over land bypasses. It defies logic that whatever is
done to the current right a way, that some how all future problems in
the existing roadway will magically disappear.
It remains interesting that Senator McGuire has made this announcement,
yet continues to claim that studies will continue on into 2022, with a
final report by 2023. He further waxes eloquent by acknowledging
roughly 30 agencies and stakeholders that have an oar in the water, yet
it appears that environmental concerns have the biggest share of the
input. This was something that was not a factor when millions of
dollars were spent to by pass Prairie Creek.
And then our own precious leadership weighed in with, “keep 101 within
the current alignment, is not an option.” Apparently, Board of
Supervisor Chairman, Chris Howard, hasn’t realized that his opinion has
little weight when and even if the State were to grace us with the money
to do something about the Grade. Granted, he is quite correct by saying
a tunnel is a “heavy lift” for the State and unlikely to be the ultimate
choice. It does not appear that he has much faith in the alternative
being a successful option. Can’t say I fault the man for thinking the
obvious. Sixty plus years of tinkering with different fixes to the
current alignment should give everyone some kind of idea that this just
might not be a successful option.
In the meantime, better than two months later and the February slide
has not been completely addressed. Two hour waits from 8am to 5pm on
weekdays continue. It looks like band aids are in our future for Last