Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

By Bob Berkowitz, Supervisor 5th District – February 18, 2017 –

  • Over 40 years ago, when Last Chance Grade fell into the ocean and killed Kurt Stremberg’s parents,  we knew that this section of Hwy 101 needed to be replaced.  And yet here we are 4 decades later saying the same thing.  It’s become a broken record.  Former Supervisor Chuck Blackburn writes in numerous articles called “yes we can” advocates for the replacement.  Almost every County Supervisor has given lip service in saying that it needs to be replaced.
  • Yes, I agree with Supervisor Cowan when she said in the Triplicate that she is, quote “not willing to wait until 2039 for a more stable highway.” and advocated for an aggressive and accelerated approach to fixing Last Chance Grade.
  • Even the Triplicate, which rarely does editorials, said last year “Caltrans estimates it will take from $250 million up to $1 billion to provide an alternate road, depending on which route is chosen. Caltrans and the state don’t have the money and likely never will. A project so costly can only be paid for with federal money. Yet, not a single bill to pay for it has been introduced in the do-nothing and deadlocked Congress we suffer. Small wonder Caltrans is staging dog-and-pony shows and promising a road to nowhere.” 
  • So, here we are with a decision to make.  Are we going to sit here again and say how awful it is that it is that we are spending millions of dollars to prop up this failing roadway or we going to take action today that will start the process for getting the funding to replace Last Chance Grade.
  • Today I am offering a possible funding solution that the President can propose to Congress, that every congressman could support and that will get us a replacement roadway.
  • The Great American Renewal Program turns the top down approach for federal funding, up side down.  It allows all 3,022 counties in the United States to determine what projects are important to them and gets them significant dollars to fund them.
  • With each county getting it’s equal share of the one trillion dollars earmarked for the President’s infrastructure plan, long neglected counties can finally get the money they need for a true renewal.  How much is that?  It’s about three hundred and twenty two million dollars per county.
  • What does it do?  It puts millions of people to work on the critical infrastructure needs in each county.  It is a program that every member of congress could support.  It gets local projects underway that may already been approved but have no funds to complete them.
  • It is a program that completes the President’s objective of getting infrastructure needs met.  It gets projects underway that are local in nature.
  • So where do we need to start?  It begins with us, Del Norte County saying yes, we want federal legislation to be drafted that would support this concept.  We also want the federal administration in Washington D.C. to support this concept as a program that could be presented as a federal bill. 
  • We should want our state organizations such as CSAC and RCRC to support this proposal and be ready to support it with a lobbying effort.
  • We should be ready to explain this proposal both in Sacramento and Washington D.C.
  • So what’s the hurry, you ask?  At no time in our history has a President been so bold as to say he wants positive results on an infrastructure plan in so short of a time frame.  He wants something that will show progress on infrastructure in the first 100 days of his presidency.  Here we are at day number 30 with 70 days to go.  
  • I don’t think we can sit around for another 2 weeks or 2 months before we take action on this.
  • So the question is, are we going to sit here and be part of the problem or are we going to take action this Tuesday at 11 am in a special board of supervisors meeting and be part of the solution?
8 thoughts on “The plan to fix Last Chance Grade”
  1. well I have a plan…since we all know there is no law north of the Klamath river..somebody needs to block off traffic, climb up the mountain, dig a hole, place dynamite in the hole create a man made slide and then the feds will come build the road…

  2. Look no further than the cavities forming in the downtown roads. Our infrastructure is failing and it’s starting fail at an increasing rate. The saturation of water isn’t helping at all and it is a matter of time that we’ll see major chunks of road wash away, shift or break away, causing yet undetermined period of time of disruption to unknown number of people.

    When I lived in Scotts Valley near Santa Cruz, we saw the same thing happen on a frontage road that parallelled the highway near my condo. Basically a high traffic frontage road got thinner over the years from erosion and constantly had to be repair, virtually every winter season. At one point, the entire width of the road along with a car went suddenly down the cliffside.

    Here’s some very real scenarios playing out recently of what we’re talking about here:

    Here’s the main photo, estimated to be 60ft deep!

    I hope people take the time to look at this and realize how serious of a problem we are actually facing.

  3. Funny how fiction so often becomes reality when part of the the story is based on facts. So to the writer it becomes a logical conclusion in the story of how failure to act leads to deaths of innocent people like Terry Reed says in his story. However, we Del Norter’s need to not sit around and talk about the LAST Chance Grade anymore…IT IS FALLING IN THE OCEAN. Slowly for now but it will end up in the ocean..its predictable and preventable. We can avoid a needless loss of life by getting behind our Supervisor and pushing this through to Washington D.C. where there is funding.
    We do not have to follow Jerry Brown who by now is having second thoughts about not maintaining infrastructure on a dam in Oroville to pay for social engineering programs , rather than dam infrastructure engineering and improvements. We do not have to follow his leadership..or lack of… we simply need to fix this roadway before it kills someone else.

  4. “This is a start, unless, of course, you have another better way to get the two hundred and fifty million dollars that will be needed to build the bypass.”

    So the fact that he didn’t present a plan makes yours good? That doesn’t make much sense to me. Protagoras of Abdera would be shaking his head.

    “With each county getting it’s equal share of the one trillion dollars earmarked for the President’s infrastructure plan, long neglected counties can finally get the money they need for a true renewal.”

    Please share your source on where this supposed trillion dollar infrastructure plan is coming from. You say that you never said there was a bill, but this statement implies that some sort of plan exists. No such plan exists, as Mr. Roberts pointed out. However, you state as fact that there is a trillion dollars out there and we need to get our piece of it.

    Suppose this money was there, and it was given to the county? Tell us your plan on how to use it. Where will this bypass go? How much will it cost the county to maintain it in the future? How are you planning to work with the state to make this happen? What alternatives do you have if this “plan” of yours doesn’t come to fruition? Have you been in contact with Sen. Mike McGuire’s office at all? Congressman Huffman?

    I don’t see the point of attempting to formulate this big national bill. We want to fix Last Chance Grade. You haven’t shown a plan here to do that. You want to get every single county together and do what? How long will that take? Timelines? Projections? When will these funds be available?

    You should make your document available to the public before this meeting tomorrow. How is anyone supposed to make an intelligent public comment on a plan that we know nothing about? I certainly hope there is more to it than this summary you’ve typed up here. This does not appear to be well thought-out or detailed. It doesn’t take a full vote of the Board of Supervisors for you to put a real proposal together to present to the public for comment. In fact, not releasing your documents seems to fly in the face of the concept of transparency in government. Let’s see the documents, Supervisor. Let’s see the details. We’re waiting.

    1. Ms. Wallace, While the same could be said as in my response to Mr. Roberts, I suppose that we are all to be held in awe by your mention of a 5th century B.C. Greek relativist. It comes to mind that the last fifty or so years of Del Norte County’s history is more to the point. In fact if you would have been paying attention for at least the last couple of weeks, or attended one of the morning “Town Hall’s” from 6 to 7 am you would have been better served. Far be it for the Triplicate to become involved and be the news source of the County. Many of the questions that you have posed would have been answered and if Chairman Howard had the sense of urgency about Last Chance Grade that most who have traveled the route, the discussion would be held in the chambers of the Board of Supervisors. So for you MS. Wallace, just how interested in bypassing Last Chance Grade are you really? 6 to 7 am at the Apple Peddler Restaurant every morning except Sundays?

      I myself had many of the same kind of questions that you have outlined and took the necessary steps to become informed rather than trust the questionable behavior demonstrated by Chris Howard. All it takes is listening to what is clearly the”other side” for you. If Supervisor Howard was truly in favor of moving forward with Last Chance Grade, he has had plenty of opportunity. I can see now after seeing both Ms. Wallace’s comment and the one by Mr. Roberts that we in this County are dealing with yet another obstacle.

      In a recent morning town hall I posed the question “How do you intend to move forward once the funding (First Problem) is in place?” Once you have funding for an infrastructure problem you immediately have two further problems, Federal and State Regulation (Second Problem) and Environmental Activism and their legal challenges (Third Problem). The answer is relatively simple, as a resident of Del Norte County are you in favor of fixing Last Chance Grade or not? If the answer is Yes, then we have a start in Supervisor Berkowitz’s program for Federal Legislation. If your answer is No, then you aren’t interested in the Hiway fix, as it appears Supervisors Howard, Hemmingsen, and Cowan are not.

      It then occurred to me that we are facing yet another problem here, similar to what the entire nation is experiencing. Political bias and intolerance as a result of one segment of the politically motivated not getting their way. It seems the political echo chamber has surfaced in Del Norte County. If the solution doesn’t come from the “correct” side of the aisle, then it is to be opposed no matter how it benefits us here in Del Norte County. How sad!

      And Please do not point to Jared Huffman’s stakeholder’s group or our State Representatives as to be involved in any meaningful way. They have had a bite of the apple and can’t even narrow the route selection down. So looking for funding at this stage of the game might seem a bit presumptuous, particularly from the current administration, but hey, He did a lot of talking on the campaign trail and some at least has come true already. Maybe a program for a trillion dollar infrastructure Bill is not too far in the realm of fantasy.

  5. Jim, thank for your comment. You are right, there is no infrastructure bill. I never said there was a bill. What we are looking for is to create a bill from this proposal. “The Great American Renewal Program” came about from discussions of the people attending the “daily town hall” meetings. Every bill starts with a proposal and this is what this is. If the board of supervisors approves it, it will be presented to other county boards for their approval, then we will search for a congressional sponsor.

    Keep in mind that in the last 40 years there has never even been a single proposal that attempts to get the funds to get Last Chance Grade built. This is a start, unless, of course, you have another better way to get the two hundred and fifty million dollars that will be needed to build the bypass.

  6. First of all, there’s no infrastructure bill: No one is missing out on any money right now because there is no money. I’d be happy to look at your source that says that this bill exists if you’d care to share it with us. I’d like to see more than you saying, “The President said so!” The President never said so. He’s too busy hitting the taxpayers up for $20 billion for his wall.

    Second of all, there’s no such thing as the “Great American Renewal Program”. Did you just make that up? If so, that’s pretty irresponsible. How can you justify this rhetoric of yours? You’re making things up to make it seem urgent when it’s not. Straight out of the “fake news” playbook.

    Third: So the gist of this is that your “plan” is simply to write a letter to the President and say, “Hey there, Donnie old pal, can you pass some legislation that’ll give ol’ Del Norte County some money? We had like 200 people here vote for you, old sport.” This is not a plan. This is a letter writing campaign. Do you have an actual, concrete plan in place for funding Last Chance Grade other than simply requesting that Congress pass some legislation? If so, I’d be more than happy to read it. What you’ve written down here just sounds like a bunch of fluff.

    “…yes, we want federal legislation drafted…” So you admit there’s no actual infrastructure bill out there for the county to get a piece of. You made everything at that BOS meeting last week up just to rabble-rouse and make it look like you’re doing something. This is highly irresponsible. It is clearly not an emergency, and you should not be wasting taxpayer dollars calling these emergency meetings without some actual facts and figures. Let’s get real here. Let’s see a real plan, not just a letter that will never get read.

    1. Mr. Roberts, It is some what mystifying to me at least, why you think that resolving the precarious nature of Hiway 101 South is not something that should be moved ahead with all due haste. Of course you may be one of those folks in the County that seem to think we should become entirely a park where humans need not apply, but that belies the fact that we are already here and over the last couple of years 101 South has shown to nearly everyone who has a brain, and passing familiarity with the road’s history that large sections of it, beginning at Crescent City Hill and on past Last Chance Grade are falling into the Pacific Ocean. This process doesn’t halt because our current leadership at the County level seems to think that he, Supervisor Howard, has until 2039 to make up his mind whether or not to put it on the Board of Supervisor’s Agenda.

      I have watched the videos of the Supervisor’s meetings since the first of January to see if it would appear and nothing. When it was finally, and that is finally, mentioned, Chairman Chris Howard is in Japan. Nothing like having your priority’s in line with the citizens of the County. In case you missed it Mr. Roberts, during last fall’s election cycle, the biggest challenge to be fixed of the County’s many problems was LAST CHANCE GRADE. It would seem to me that that particular issue would have been addressed in the first meeting in January!

      As far as all the carping about no action at the National level, would you rather we had no plan if funding was to become available? Are you comfortable with no “fix” on 101 until it become a headline in the paper? Something like “Fourteen People DIE when Last Chance Grade Plunges Into The Pacific Ocean” Triplicate story by Tony Reed, March 14,2017? (Fiction at this point, but who is to know.)

      Up to this point all we have to discuss is the INTENT to begin crafting a piece of Federal Legislation found in Supervisor Berkowitz’s plan, The Great American Renewal Plan. Once it is discussed by the Board and supported, a process can begin to gain broader support from Rural County’s with similar needs. It is a Political procedure that can begin in Del Norte County to address at least the funding part of our most pressing infrastructure need.

      The only people that seem to be irresponsible are Chairman Chris Howard, Supervisor Lori Cowan, Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen, and you Mr. Roberts. Even the Triplicate seems to be grudgingly aware of The Great American Renewal Plan, not that they support it. You, on the other hand appear to be entirely clueless as to the urgency and the method being proposed for FINALLY getting some movement towards getting the Last Chance Grade Bypass moving forward. It appears as you so kindly put it “to rabble-rouse and make it look like you’re doing something” is what it takes to at least get the conversation started. Fifty years and still waiting for a Bypass.

      I purposely ignored the inane diatribe in your third point, because that is the very essence of “Fake News”. More importantly, I see no evidence that you have offered in your rather lengthy rant of your personal favorite solution to this “pressing” problem. Inaction, as has been on full display by Supervisors Howard, Cowan, Hemmingsen and now you, Mr. Roberts, does not play well in Del Norte County’s public arena, and will no doubt weigh in heavily when re election time comes around unless there is a marked change of position by Supervisors Howard, Hemmingsen and Cowan. Just as the Triplicate is finding out, there is always another side to the story,_________if you take the time to look for it. Just Saying.

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