Devil’s Slide is open!

Breaking news

Posted by on Thu, August 3, 2006

Devil's Slide opened shortly after 9pm Thursday night, well in advance of the 5am Friday opening time projected by Caltrans.

Cheri Parr
Barry Parr
Cheri Parr
Montara resident shakes hands with Linda Mar Safeway employees who are happy to see him at 11pm on Thursday night.

I kinda figured they’d do that, in order to avoid a land-rush lineup of people wanting to be first.

My commute to the City was a blissful 30 minutes instead of 90 minutes today!

A few thoughts though.

I do think that Caltrans should have had a public opening instead of a closed ‘dignitaries’ only ceremony, what’s with that? After all the emotional, financial and physical stress endured over the last four months by coastsiders it’s the least they could have done. Instead they throw a self back-slapping event at the taxpayers expense for themselves.

Political issues aside, I personally think Caltrans have handled the whole ordeal badly from a PR perspective. Barry, maybe a quick Coastsider reader poll would be in order to gauge reactions to the whole ordeal? People’s perceptions have a habit of becoming their reality, let’s see what the public really think. And maybe Caltrans can learn some valuable PR lessons for the future.

I’m glad it’s all over, I’m thankful it’s fixed, I’m happy to have my regular commute back, I hope coastal business recovers and I’m looking forward to a beer and taco at La Playa with my Pacifica buddies tonight!


Well now that the slide is open again maybe [& this is going to twink people] it can stay as an alternate route to our narrow 2 laner “Little Dig” tunnel for us tunnel phobiacs, be just my luck that not only will the vehicle in front of me be on fire in the tunnel but also the car behind! Or get stuck behind a spewing stinky diesel. As Donald Suterland said in a movie “Always with the negative waves Moriarty” :)

No worry about a “Little Dig.” This tunnel project will be two-lane in lie only. Each bore of the two tunnels will be big enough for a two-lane tunnel with room to spare. The two tunnels taken together are as big as tunnels on interstate highways—the two bores of the Hanging Lake Tunnel or the two roadways of the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 in colorado, for examples.

As for tunnel fumes, huge jet fans costing enormous amounts of money to install and maintain will be part of a ventilation system costing, by itself, many times what a good repair (dewatering and stitching together) of the road across the landslide would have cost.

Anyone who wants an alternate route on the current alignment is years too late. There are now hundreds of millions of dollars worth of momentum pushing the underground freeway. Caltrans made solid arrangements with government officials and so-called environmentalists and came up with plans, which have been pushed through necessary approvals, that all but assure the agency will get the current almost $300 million budgeted plus whatever overruns they can tack on. The money game is what Caltrans is all about, and they are sufficiently able to play the politicians and compliant public to make sure they get it.

Carl May

Wow. I’m amazed how quickly the comments here turned negative.

I say hat’s off to Caltrans for getting the road fixed as quickly as they did - a round the clock effort that only paused to celebrate 4th of July.  It’s an amazing feat of engineering, too. And they did right by underpromising and overdelivering.

If you watch the videos where the geologists describe the nature of the landslide area - it’s obvious that this volatile cliff route will some day end up in the ocean. And, as they said, a catastrophic failure could make a road repair almost impossible.  Of course the naysayers will argue that’s a conspiracy and coverup, yada yada, but I the analysis seems very open and sound to me.

I commute to the City and am ecstatic to have the slide reopened, and I have nothing but praise for the way Caltrans handled the repair, both in terms of their monumental effort and the way they commuted with the public.

As someone who lives in Montara and works in SF, and relied on the Sam Trans Express bus from Pacifica to get to work, it was a huge burden (both emotionally and logstically) to face the long drive through Half Moon Bay.

I was ecstatic (as was everyone in my carpool) when CalTrans announced the road would be open—EARLY.

Hats off to

-CalTrans for maintaining the nearly daily updates about the progress

-Everyone who carpooled through 92 to ease road congestion for not making us wait until Wedn for the latest news :-)

-CalTrans for setting out expections for end of Sept and then exceeding them!

Carl, Glad to hear our little dig tunnel is going to be wide enough to drive thru. Remember reading that people were complaining that the tunnel was too wide! I presume that they wanted a narrow tunnel so that we would merrily bounce off the walls driving thru it. This i presume would be another growth stopping infrastructure fiasco. No matter for the people that are already here clogging our roads they must all be mirages not real people so lets not do anything to improve their lives commute, a movie theather a supermarket etc. Remember a friend of mine saying ” we dont need road improvements we need less people” my answer to him was why dont you step into the less people machine & disappear. But of course he meant for every body else to be the less people not him!

Please, anyone incapable of staying in a 12-foot lane, whether or not they are driving through a tunnel, should turn in their driver’s license for the sake of others on the road. Redi-Wheels and Redi-Coast are “redi” to help the directionally challenged.

Carl May

information for general uniformed public at large (sic)

I was once a colorado resident and took interest in the comments about how large this tunnel is vs. two of the Colorado greats “Eisenhower and Hanging Lake here is what I found.

Eisenhower tunnel is 40 Ft high and 48 feet wide each bore.
information from:

Hanging lake is 29’9” high by 48 feet wide each bore
information from:

the devils slide proposed and quoted tunnel is going to be ~40 feet by ~ 26 (a estimate as they did not have any true spec’s on vertical that I could find).

information quoted from  copy of text below

Each tunnel has a 3,600 mm (12 ft) wide traffic lane and 2400 mm (8 ft) and 600 mm (2 ft) wide
shoulders. Both sides of the road will have 1200 mm (4 ft) wide sidewalks on raised 200 mm (8
in) high curbs. A 300 mm (1 ft) wide clearance zone will be provided next to the traffic lane to
accommodate oversized vehicles such as mobile homes and trucks with large wing mirrors, etc.
The vertical clearance envelope is 4750 mm (16 ft). The jet fans and variable message signs
are above this envelope. See Figure 3.6 below.

One of the points I think “WE” may be overlooking here is that the Eisenhower Tunnel was completed 33 years ago and designed 40 years ago I am pretty sure after living in Silverthorne,CO (first town west of the Eisenhower tunnel) that if Colorado DOT built the tunnel today it would be 3 lanes in each bore not 2 to allow for a break down lane and expansion. 7 hour backups are a common problem if there is an accident. Further is the fact that the traffic lanes in both of these tunnels is 13 feet not 12 as the Devils slide tunnel will be that is a pretty good reason to have an extra foot on each side of the devils slide for oversized loads. Maybe we could just get rid of the 8 foot shoulder then when someones car breaks down we can divert traffic back to 92 for a few hours of fun.

Also 12 feet is not unusual for a lane width as show below 12 is not large or samll in fact it is a national standard.

National average of Highway lane width

Just some information for us the uniformed masses…



A little more for the uninformed:

The actual wall-to-wall dimension in each of the bores of the Hanging Lake Tunnel on I-70 in Colorado are undoubtedly less than 40 feet, as anyone who has driven the tunnel with its two lanes and modest shoulders on either side knows—or, easier, just check out the pictures of the existing tunnel.

More striking are the actual spaces where cars travel in the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70. Confined by panel walls in the bores on either side, the traveling area in each bore consists of two 13-foot lanes and about a 2 1/2 to 3 foot walkway on one side—openings less wide on this major Interstate than the Devil’s Slide Tunnels! What is more, there is often two-way traffic in one of the bores when the traffic is heavy in one direction (so there will be three total lanes through the tunnels in the heavy direction), making one of these *narrower* bores two-way as a singlke tunnel at Devil’s slide should have been if the current roadway could not be repaired.

Hey, if having tunnels sized for an Interstate on the supposedly (by Coastal Act for scenic rural areas) two-lane Highway 1 at Devil’s Slide seems a bit much, check out the No Name Tunnel on I-70 in western Colorado: roadways narrower than the ones planned for the Devil’s Slide twin tunnels on an Interstate!

Caltrans wins (and spends) again!

Not that it was going to happen in District 4 of Caltrans—where spending is always maximized, the politicians are easy, the “environmentalists” cave in, and the public is largely gullible putty in the PR spinner’s hands—but a truly two-lane, single-bore tunnel that would be perfectly adequate for Devil’s Slide could be built. Check out the Collier Tunnel in northern California or the new Wolf Creek Pass Tunnel in Colorado for designs.

Carl May

Matt Wrublewski compares dimensions for the Eisenhower tunnel and the Devil’s Slide tunnel to justify the oversized Devil’s Slide tunnel.  However, this is apples and (sour?) grapes—the way I read it, Matt and Carl are both saying that the Eisenhower tunnel is two traffic lanes in each bore.  The Devil’s slide tunnel is supposedly one traffic lane in each bore.  If a traffic lane is 12 feet wide, the Devil’s slide tunnels should be 40-12=28 feet wide.  Therefore they are grossly oversized.

The Devil’s Slide tunnels are only a can of paint away from being two lanes in each bore.

Which is as they should be… 2 lanes each way to deal with the volume of traffic this artery must currently support. I can’t see the logic for this section to be only 2 lanes (unless of course you want to prevent people from enjoying the california coastline).

Ray, Thanks thought i was the only one on the Coast that realizes the volume of traffic we now have local’s & tourist. And 2 lanes each way is going to be barely adequate, of course those that want to use our roads for stopping growth will see 2 lanes as another Cal Trans conspiracy to get taxpayer moneys. They would probably love to see one lane! alternate south & north traffic thru the tunnel!
Sign me Mr. Tunnel Phobiac!

Imagining further growth will solve the multitude of current problems caused by overgrowth is like imagining more crack cocaine or meth will solve a person’s drug-induced behavioral problems. Yes, the impossible growth ethic has been firmly planted in the minds of true believers, chosen as an economic engine for the US after WWII, but no one has yet come up with a method for sustaining it in the real, finite world.

And then there is the little matter that it is the law that Highway 1 is supposed to remain a two-lane road in scenic rural areas. And that a two-lane tunnel or repair of the current alignment was what the public voted for in Measure T. Only by overlooking facts can the twin tunnels be construed to be a two-lane road, just as Caltrans misrepresented a bypass roadbed that could hold a five-to-six lane freeway as a two-lane project.

One can look at current knowledge, numbers, and measurements, or one can throw their future to the winds of myth and magic that have never worked in the past to create a sustainable society.

Carl May


The walled areas in which cars and trucks drive in the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 are, in fact, narrower than the finished bores in which traffic will drive in the Devil’s slide tunnels. Same goes for the roadways in the two bores of the No Name Tunnel on I-70. The roadways in the two bores of the Hanging Lake Tunnel on I-70 are about the same size as the roadways in the Devil’s Slide tunnels.

The point is, tunnels designed for a major, multi-laned interstate freeway are roughly the same size and capacity as the roadways in the Devil’s slide project. The reason for using tunnel examples in Colorado is that one of the consultants for the Woodward Clyde tunnel feasibility study for Caltrans that came up with nothing but oversized designs for what is supposed to be a two-lane highway was from Colorado. The reason to focus on size rather than the job that actually needs to be done for any District 4 Caltrans project is that Caltrans *always* attempts to rationalize the maximum cost it can get away with.

As legions of past Caltrans administrators, employees, and contractors can attest, money is the measure of this bureaucracy, the way it keeps score on how it is doing, the factor that determines its power in the state government hierarchy. All else, including how citizens are affected by its projects, is secondary. As we know, all this is nothing unusual, being how most state government agencies in California operate.

Carl May

Look at the scenic central california coastline where Morro Bay and others, as well as San Diego area. When there is such a high volume of traffic that exists in the devils slide area the only valid option is to make it 4 lanes. The laws and facts do support this. And I voted for the tunnel it is was never made apparent that it could only be 2 lanes.

You are totally spot-on! Also, you are definitely not alone as I think that perhaps the majority of the coastside community feels this say way. The thing is, most folks feel that it is almost impossible to effect any sort of change on the coast, for certain obvious reasons.

I was looking into the whole tunnel campaign information from back in 95. Take a look at the website below and you will see that many of the arguments against the Caltrans options are all valid problems with the Tunnel we are seeing today.


Comment 18
Thu, August 10, 2006 3:08pm
Carl May
All my comments

Refusing to look at the plain language of the Coastal Act that requires Highway 1 to be a two-lane road in scenic rural areas, and refusing to look at the traffic load for the highway on Devil’s Slide that does not require more than two lanes for either capacity or safety reasons (the bottlenecks are the lighted intersections on Highways 1 and 92, not on Devil’s Slide), and refusing to look at the human carrying capacity of the midcoast (the sustainable human population at the levels of consumption and “quality of life” demanded) which does not require more than two-lane highways makes faith in baseless myth and magic that has never worked in the past easier.

Blind faith in failed cornucopian ideals created to artificially pump up the US economy after WWII does not constitute a supporting argument for pie-in-the-sky notions that more destructive overgrowth (which actually further *reduces* carrying capacity as it destroys supportive resources) and wider roads are necessary.

Carl May

Perhaps they were thinking, “The inside of a tunnel is not a scenic area.”

Barry, I’ve suggested that they paint the inside of the tunnel to look like the view from the current alignment.

Well one could definitely argue that the inside of tunnel is not scenic. Carl, what you are trying to argue is the definition of “scenic” which is not detailed out in any laws. It is clear that there are many sections of highway 1 that are 4 lanes, and that was all done within the laws of California. Furthermore, those sections that are currently 4 lanes could be argued either way that they are or are not scenic. But the facts are that it exists, and based on the current amount of traffic on devils slide today, it is quite apparent 4 lanes are needed. Especially since the stretch of 1 through pacifica is 4 lanes. Sorry, but no myths or magic here.

Why oh why do I have to keep repeating that Measure A in 1986, passed by the voters of San Mateo County, stated that Highway 1 north of Montara and Highway 92 east of the city limits of Half Moon Bay must be ONLY two lanes. No mention is made as to whether they have to SCENIC.

It would require another vote of all the voters within San Mateo County to undo Measure A as that measure had no sunset clause.

Ray. It is beyond myths or’s the LAW

So there is no need to paint a scenic highway inside the tunnel.

John Lynch

Hmmm, I had no idea about measure A applying to Highway 1. Thanks for the information John. It seems that it is either the red legged frog, or wetlands, or measure A that is being used to prevent any sort of improvements on the coast. I think it is time to read up on Measure A to find out what it really states.

It is certain that the california law allows highway 1 to be 4 lanes, yet a measure approved by a county states that it cannot be 4 lanes. Can that actually happen when Highway 1 is a state highway, served by all of the residents of california?

John Lynch,
Thanks for patiently hanging in there. I have given up “explaining alternate side of the street parking to turnips.”
Ken Johnson

Ray, section 30254 of the Coastal Act begins “New or expanded public works facilities shall be designed and limited to accommodate needs generated by development or uses permitted consistent with the provisions of this division; provided, however, that it is the intent of the Legislature that State Highway Route 1 in rural areas of the coastal zone remain a scenic two-lane road.

A downloadable PDF of the California Coastal Act is available on this page of the Coastal Commissions’s web site.

Page 10 of the Montara/Moss Beach/El Granada Community Plan contains this bullet item: “Roads - modified residential road standards are established, to allow narrow streets and flexible design standards to help preserve natural amenities and the community’s rural character.” (emphasis added)  That makes it pretty difficult to argue that SR 1 north of HMB is not rural.  Therefore, under Public Resources Code section 30254, it’s limited to two lanes.  Even if you successfully argued against that point, it’s inarguable that it’s rural between Pacifica’s southerly boundary and Kanoff Ave in Montara.  The tunnel is within that area, therefore the tunnel and the connecting segment of SR 1 are rural and limited to two lanes under State law.

And John, I’m not arguing that the tunnel is scenic; quite the contrary.  That’s why I’m greatly saddened by the eventual loss of the existing scenic alignment, hence my snide comment about painting the inside of the tunnel.

Now that everyone has had a chance to see the repair site, does anyone still believe CalTrans’ claim that they can’t build a bridge over the failing segment, which appears to be approximately 150’ long (under 4 seconds at 30 mph)?  CT claims that there is no solid area to anchor such a bridge.  Build a 250’ long free span bridge and the ends would be completely out of the slide zone.  Such bridges are sometimes pre-built off-site, which would be appropriate for Devil’s Slide.

I understand about the general desire to keep highway 1 to 2 lanes, but one cannot argue that there are sections of hwy 1 that are currently 4 lanes. Now, we should then review how it happened that those sections of hwy 1 were determined to be 4 lanes. My guess is that it would mainly be based on the volume of traffic that the specific section of the highway must support. If you were then to compare that “volume” of traffic to our current devils slide volume, my bet is you will find that the devils slide section would qualify for 4 lanes. Do you disagree?

And, even though you’ve stated that the goals of unincorporate community plan to have a “rural character” the facts are that highway 1 services many communities, including Pacifia, HMB, Pescadero and beyond. It is no different than say the small coastside communities on the central coast.

Oh and Ken…. Do you really need to resort to name calling (what do you mean by “turnip”)?

Oh, and how is that alternative tax efforts coming along? And, you never did tell us what our children have gained by Measure S failing. I remember that was one of your arguments you pushed for when campaigning against S.


Comment 28
Fri, August 11, 2006 4:37pm
Carl May
All my comments


Now you have gone and done it—quoted material that would be such a joy for some to discover on their own.

Much-referenced Section 30254 of the Coastal Act is just one of the many parts of that set of laws that would have been blatantly violated by the above-ground bypass. A roadbed capable of holding five to six lanes plus shoulders would have been gouged into Montara Mountain. Initially, only three to four lanes (depending on location) plus shoulders would have been paved. Do recall, however, that by playing with semantics (which involved pretending continuous passing lanes do not count) and depending on the public’s willingness to go along with lies and omissions rather than check numbers for themselves, the foul blight was declared to be two lanes in the environmental documents prepared by Caltrans, approved by the Coastal Commission and other agencies, and eventually upheld by the courts after many years of challenges.

The civics lesson is that in a system of government that can be bent by rhetorical winds, two tunnels (each as big as what would be needed for the amount of traffic) can be called one tunnel and four lanes can be called two and an underground tube can be called “scenic” if the right people agree that they are. The underground freeway violates several sections of the Coastal Act (not nearly as many as the bypass) if one takes the words of the law literally. But who does that?

Carl May

Comment 29
Fri, August 11, 2006 10:13pm
Dan Blick
All my comments

If you’re referring to 4-lane Hwy 1 as an “improvement,” you don’t *get it*.


p.s. - What we really need now is Californians for Property Rights to ensure that local governments and CalTrans follow Measure A.  To the letter!

Ray, clearly there are sections of SR 1 which are more than 2 lanes.  I believe that from Santa Monica to near LAX, Lincoln Blvd is SR 1 and that stretch is mostly 6 through lanes.  But I’m not aware of sections of SR 1 in rural areas which are more than 2 lanes.

I do not see the volume of traffic on Devil’s Slide as anywhere close to requiring or justifying 4 lanes.  I’ve driven it during commute times and it’s just not congested.  (Busy is not the same as congested—it’s busy but traffic moves just fine.)  The major reason for this is that there are no signals between Linda Mar and El Granada.  (I find it no coincidence that the people who push hardest for 4 lanes everywhere and the people who push hardest for signal after signal after signal are pretty much the same people.)  The tunnels will be straight and not have that Disneyland roller-coaster dip that the Slide has, so 2 lanes will be sufficient for a long time into the future, until some whiner gets a signal installed at the southern portal.  That will back up traffic and allow maximum-growthers to demand that can of paint to make the tunnels 4 lanes.  Of course that won’t mitigate the negative effects of such a signal, but nobody ever removes improperly installed traffic signals…

Comment 31
Fri, August 11, 2006 11:56pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

No, I don’t get it. How could continuing 4 lanes from Pacifica thru devils slide not be considered an improvement?? Please tell me how that would not be equal to a safer, and more reliable route for folks to travel to the coastside?

Dan Blick wrote:

What we really need now is Californians for Property Rights to ensure that local governments and CalTrans follow Measure A.  To the letter!

Why not contact CPR and ask them to put it on their agenda?

If you look at the central coast you will find hwy 1 is 4 lanes in many sections that could be considered rural. If you look at sections of hwy 1 outside of San Diego you will also see 4 lanes. Oh, and believe me I am not for putting in more lights, though are some quick benefits to having lights. For example, the 2nd light at El Granada now provides for safe bike and walk travel to the beach, which is what was very much needed (but could have been done with an overpass).

I am not for “maximum-growth” (wow another new label) and in fact what I have been advocating has absolutely no relation to growth. That is what I don’t get about why some of the folks on this website keep complaining about: how can improving our roads means more growth? Unless of course there is some other hidden agenda..


Ray, thanks for supporting my point. —Dan

When were the 4-lane sections of SR 1 in rural areas made 4 lanes?  If it was prior to 1976, they’re grandfathered in.

Could you provide a full url to 4 lane rural sections?  (Find the location via that site, hit “link to this page”, then copy the full url from the address bar.)  Or perhaps photo numbers from

In 1993 (when visiting up here), I drove back from Santa Cruz to L.A. on SR 1.  Other than the portions which pre-date the Coastal Act such as around Malibu, and the portions where it’s also US 101, I don’t recall any 4 lane sections in rural areas.  Admittedly, I have not driven SR 1 south of the northern part of Orange County or north of the GG bridge, which is why I’m asking for the map locations.  I did drive some of 4 lane SR 1 in rural areas in the mid-1970s, which means it pre-dates the Coastal Act.

Comment 36
Sun, August 20, 2006 10:51pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

What point were you even trying to make??

Leonard, First, I disagree that devils slide is anymore rural than many parts of pacifica, or even parts of 1 in San Francisco area. Just because nothing can be built on the side of a hill doesn’t make it rural. Certainly there is as much traffic flowing thru devils slide as is thru Southern Pacifica so one wonders why it gets reduced when the traffic volume is the same.

As for the Morro Bay area, here is one url:;=&daddr=morro+bay,+ca&ie=UTF8&ll=35.436171,-120.88671&spn=0.005621,0.011083&t=k&om=1

This satellite map shows hwy 1 is 4 lanes, all the way through morro bay. Southbound, it connects morro bay to the 5 cities area. All of this is as rural as Montara/El Granada/Half Moon Bay. I think what would be great to get is data on the actual traffic volume of devils slide and compare that to other areas of hwy 1 that have required 4 lanes.

Comment 37
Sun, August 20, 2006 11:12pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

What point were you even trying to make??

First off, I don’t agree that devils slide is even considered rural. It is no more rural than parts of Pacifica, or even parts of San Francisco. Just because you can’t build anything on the side of this steep hill doesn’t make it rural. There is as much traffic volume thru Southern Pacifica as in devils slide so one wonders why it gets reduced to 2 lanes?

As for Morro Bay, here is one url:;=&daddr=morro+bay,+ca&ie=UTF8&ll=35.436171,-120.88671&spn=0.005621,0.011083&t=k&om=1

This map shows hwy 1 as 4 lanes thru Morro Bay. Southbound it connects to the 5 cities area and is also 4 lanes. You will see hwy 1 this size for most of the area. I think you will find the amount of traffic flowing thru this area is no greater than what we see in hwy 1 in our community today. What would be great to have is actual data on traffic volumes from devils slide to south hmb and see how it compares to other areas of hwy 1 that have required 4 lanes. But, after having been thru 2 slide outages I am certain we need to widen the 2 main arteries of our community to support the amount of folks that live on the coast today.


Comment 38
Sun, August 20, 2006 11:19pm
Ray Olson
All my comments
Comment 39
Mon, August 21, 2006 5:19pm
Carl May
All my comments

There is much less traffic on Highway 1 between Montara and southern Pacifica because a big part of the Highway 1 traffic in southern Pacifica is generated by the resident population of southern Pacifica (about the size of the population of the entire midcoast from Montara through Half Moon Bay) and by people visiting southern Pacifica from the north.

Highway 1 from Montara to Pacifica is not currently congested in either direction. No need for four lanes. Because the midcoast has already exceeded a population that can be sustained with local life-support resources, there should be no need for expensive, expanded infrastructure (such as the underground freeway of the Interstate-sized twin tunnels). the miles between Montara and Pacifica are rural by both the common definition of “rural” and by the legal semantic practices associated with California’s Coastal Act. A number of traffic and safety studies have been conducted for this stretch of road, and relevant parts of the Coastal Act for the same stretch have been discussed at great length in, among other places, the several EIR go-arounds for the ill-fated above-ground bypass “freeway.”

For those new to the information that exists in this area of concern, some of the appropriate documents with data and analyses from studies and comments on same from numerous individuals and groups used to be found in the reference section of the HMB Library. Maybe they still are? In any event, one can, with effort, probably produce statisitcs and documents through requests to the District 4 offices of Caltrans.

Carl May

There will only be more people living on the coast not less. Sorry, but that is just reality. If you drive on devils slide during commute hours and tourist days it is heavily travelled, way more than the original engineers had ever imagined I am sure. By you “common” definition of rural I then argue that most parts of Pacifica and even parts of SF are rural. In addition to those areas in the central coast that I refer to above.

I would be interested in the traffic studies you speak of, however. I’ve tried searching on Caltrans’ website for some information. I would be interested in not only the current traffic volumes, but what the volumes would like be in say 5-10 years, given the current LCP. It may be that Caltrans has the foresight when constructing the tunnel so that we can accomodate the traffic levels in the near future.

And, the current devils slide is by no way “safe” compared to most ca highways. I’ve seen too many flipped cars, head-on collisons, etc to know it needs to be safer: ie. 4 lanes and straighter.

> Dan,
> What point were you even trying to make??


I was giving you some encouragement to “think outside the box.”

From the volume of your verbage above, it’s apparent that you don’t understand why anyone *wouldn’t* want Hwy 1 to be four lanes along the coast.  Since you don’t understand or identify with the values of the people you’re attempting to persuade, only those who already agree with you find your arguments compelling.

Here are my own reasons for limiting Hwy 1 to two lanes:

+ I moved here because my wife and I were attracted to the rural, agricultural, small-town character of the coastside.  It’s a welcome contrast to the other side of the hill, and we think it’s a great place to raise our children.

+ We believe that our quality of life and property values are enhanced by our proximity to undeveloped open space and the low population density in our area.

+ SM Co. Measure A (1986) says so.

+ Expanding Hwy 1 brings more traffic and more demand for development. 

+ Only slow, well-controlled development preserves the rural, agricultural, small-town character of the coast.

+ Hwy 1, in its current 2-lane configuration, is adequate for the coast’s traffic needs.  Expansion to 4 lanes would be a *much* more expensive solution than buses.  With so much of our population concentrated within 0.3 mi of Hwy 1, with the amount of school traffic, and with so many coastside commuters going to so many of the same places, buses are a far superior alternative to expansion.  Especially in 3-4 years, when gasoline is $6 per gallon.  We’ll be glad we *didn’t* expand to 4 lanes.

+ I disagree that “There will only be more people living on the coast not less [sic].” I believe that if there is a significant expansion of housing and population, it will only be with the approval of the coastside’s voters, many of whom would consider the development and growth a negative rather than a positive.  It’d be a pretty tough sell.

+ The housing market is in transition.  The Bubble is bursting.  It’s a buyers’ market.  New development contributes to an oversupply, and erodes the property values of existing homeowners.

I have to agree with Carl about the coast’s carrying capacity.  We exceed it at our own peril.

Ray, I don’t purport to speak for everyone - only myself.  But if your arguments don’t address the love that many of us have for this sacred land, and our desire to preserve it, I’m afraid you’ll be wasting both your time and ours.


Comment 42
Tue, August 22, 2006 11:24pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your comments. I too am living on the coastside for the same reasons as you have indicated. I think there are many folks that agree with this same desire. I do not desire to diminish it. But, I do not believe that making hwy 1 4 lanes (or 92 4 lanes) to mean that the coastside will be diminished. In fact, I totally believe it will be improved, and that is where I fail to see your reasoning. The only thing I see from the logic of throttling traffic flow is perhaps a “this is my coast and no one else’s coast” attitude. I do not see how increasing the # of lanes means more houses, as long as there is a growth limit placed on the area. This is the
“slow well-controlled development” that you speak of. Not the “Let’s make sure it is very difficult for anyone to enjoy the coast”.

And, the growth limit will always be reached, no matter what you do to hinder it (and the coastsiders have approved this limit). We all realize the “bubble bursting” climate will soon fade.. it’s just that everything will come back to normal, which is still growth. If people are so worried that capacity of the coast has been exceeded, then one suggestion could be to seek a different area that is not in this situation, which could help in the “negative growth” that Carl is so emphatic about. Regardless of what anyone believes about capacity, the reality of all of this is that there will always be growth. So, I am stating that our road infrastructure cannot even handle today’s volumes, let alone the forseeable future. It would be interesting to hear “other” peoples opinions of this.

I drove up from Los Angeles to the Coastside this weekend, trying to stay on Highway 1 as much as possible, coming back to 101 around San Luis Obispo when it was getting dark.

As you drive, it becomes clear (if you didn’t know it already) that there is a huge difference between a two-lane and a four-lane highway. You need more lights and barriers and crosswalks. There is an expectation of speed.  They are much less friendly to people living and walking and biking alongside them.  You have areas where people are actively discouraged from going for their own safety. The noise becomes intolerable. The neighborhoods closest the highway become slums in some cases.

The four-lane highway you have in your mind is clean and bright and fast and scenic. The one you have to live with is dirty and noisy and dangerous.

Choosing traffic flow over human scale is always a mistake.

Ray, you’re normally a reasonable guy, so I don’t like to see you making the accusatory argument “The only thing I see from the logic of throttling traffic flow is perhaps a “this is my coast and no one else’s coast” attitude. “

Why is it selfish for me to want human-scale roads in my community and not selfish for somone else to want to push four lanes through it to make their commute shorter?

Hi Barry,
Thanks for the compliment on being a reasonable guy. I hope I have been reasonable in all of my discussions. Sorry if folks take offense to my comment on attitude. Honestly, I have spoken to folks that agree with me on the road infrastructure and the “no growth” attitude and that seems to be what folks perception is. Including folks on the other side of hill. I’m trying to find out if that is really people’s intention, and because I don’t understand how improving the roads means additional growth, when their are already controls to keep growth in check. Let’s do a quick what-if: What it hwy 1 & 92 were 6 lanes (i’m not advocating this), with proper overpasses and entries/exits onto the hwys. In addition, the county and hmb city had a 1% annual growth factor that was enforced. Would there be any more growth than today?

And glad to hear you have driven the section of central coast I have been referring to. If you examined an area that is considered “rural” like our area, such as Morro Bay, I think you will find that there are no slums and that it is clean. If you travel to a more heavily developed area (such as Santa Monica) you will find more of the dirty, noisy, and dangerous. Oh, and our current road system is just as dangerous: who wants to walk alongside hwy 1 right now?? When I lived in Moss Beach I would take my kids to the east side of hwy 1 to go to the park. That little trip was VERY dangerous and there is NO WAY I would let my kids do that on their own (especially on weekends). We need to do something about the safety of our roads, and I believe that widening hwy 1 would help. But in addition, we need safe overpasses on hwy 1 for foot and bike travel. We need to minimize the lights on the road, have proper left and right bay turns, and have frontage roads that connect the tracts.

I am not bringing this up to make my commute time faster. What raised this concern is that if there were ever an emergency situation like a natural disaster etc, I would want to get back over the hill to my family. Too me, devils slide being out was like a simulated exercise of a disaster situation. Given that, it would be extremely tough to reach folks on the coast (or evacuate the coast). I’m hoping others feel the same way.

The other reason is the fact that people will always come here and visit. There will always be the tourist crowd that comes into our community. This currently affects everyone’s daily lives (regardless of work commute) and there is no reason why we can’t allow folks to enjoy the coast and at the same time be allowed to do our daily errands without the stress and exhaustion of dealing with our traffic jams.
I hope this makes sense.

Comment 45
Thu, August 24, 2006 1:03am
Carl May
All my comments

More hardscaping cannot alleviate the problems already caused by excess hardscaping. Greater disruption and obliteration of natural geographic features and ecologic systems can only degrade remaining natural aesthetics that some find appealing on the coastside. The growth ethic, the notion that growth is good and inevitable, is, in the US, largely a socioeconomic fabrication of the post-WWII era, when it was (ignorantly) decided to make growth and development a cornerstone of enlargement and profit-making in the US economy, even though this ultimately relies on cornucopian myth and magic.

The coastside is already beyond being able to sustain its human population with locally available resources necessary for life support. Water, to mention an obvious one, is expected to come from somewhere else out of a magic spigot. Some think this spigot resides in San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy system. But Hetch Hetchy, itself, is overdrawn in terms of sustainability and has severely damaged the Tuolumne River and its watershed. So what? Sacrifice what’s left of the Tuolumne River (some of which is in a national park)? Go to another source? Well, all of California is in water arrears, and a drought of the sort seen in the 1970’s would be an ugly demonstration of just how bad the situation is. Go out of state for the magic source? California is already battling neighboring states for water, especially out of the Colorado River (which is so overdrawn that it doesn’t reach the Gulf of California any longer—so much for sustaining that major river’s watershed and delta). And altough water insanity is particularly pronounced in the arid West, few places anywhere in the US have secure water supplies for their current population. And no place, anywhere, has enough fresh water for indefinite growth—no matter how slow or fast. The growth ethic survives on delusion.

When you’re unsustainable, doing more of what makes you unsustainable only makes the situation worse, no matter how much of what you don’t care about you are willing to sacrifice and how many expensive problems you are willing to put off for future generations to solve with even the even larger amounts of magic that will needed to address increased dilemmas. Let’s hope today’s midcoast kids learn how to survive on what grows out of their parents’ myth and ignorance (and any nourishing memories of today’s scraps of ever-diminishing natural coastal features and resources).

Carl May

If you want to see what a four-lane highway would look like on the Coastside, take a look at Pacifica.  Just south of Sharp Park, the freeway turns into a four-lane highway.

For most of its length, there is a concrete barrier down them middle, except where traffic lights provide the sole means of getting on the highway. This serves the dual purpose of discouraging people from crossing anywhere but crosswalks and keeping fast-moving cars from smashing into one another.  It undoubtedly encourages cars to go faster that they normally would. Pacifica cops are always patrolling the road to get people to slow down on that highway.

It’s a nasty, miserable stretch of road.

Is it growth-inducing?  This November, Pacifica will vote on whether to abrogate their own laws to stick 355 housing units where none are planned. The developer has pulled out all the stops to make his dream a reality

I think we all know where you are coming from. From your statements I read that you feel the world is overpopulated as it is and we need to have a reduction in the number humans. I don’t think that has any bearing on the discussion above since we are not talking about how to reduce our population here on the coast.

I’m not sure I agree that the stretch of road you mention is a nasty piece of road. When driving on sharp park during commute hours, you will find that it suppports ALOT of cars. The only bottleneck is connecting to hwy 1 from westbound sharp park. Also, I’ve seen several head-on collisions on hwy 1 in our community because of the fact that there is no barrier between northbound and southbound. People trying to make a left turn, patiently waiting, and then someone from the opposite direction nails them. And I’m not necessarily advocating barriers (I’m not sure). I’m not advocating a thoroughfare here that mimics what you see in southern california. I grew up in Huntington Beach and it is a mess, but mainly because development is unchecked.

As for growth-inducing.. There is certainly no evidence that the developer wants to build so many housing units because of the width of hwy 1. And, I’m not sure what Pacifica’s annual growth rate is, so that development is in check.

Anyone claiming not to be pro-growth should demand alternative safety fixes for SR 1 before continuing to push for 4 lanes.

1.  Add a center median / left turn lane / merge lane everywhere it’s needed.
2.  Add dedicated right turn lanes anyplace where there is sufficient traffic.
3.  Fix the existing merge lanes so that they’re not so difficult and unsafe to use.  The merge lanes are always too short, too narrow, too close to the through traffic in both directions, and poorly marked.  The way they’re designed here is nothing short of totally incompetent.

The existing highway though El Granada is 42-43 feet wide where there are no left turn lanes.  Doing what I’m asking for above would require widening the highway by 16 feet or so (12 foot center lane + two 2 foot buffer zones), but it would still be a two lane highway.  I would easily support this, but I remain opposed to making it 4 through lanes.  It’s just not necessary if the other improvements are made.

The center median that I’m suggesting would also make it much safer for pedestrians to cross, since it would only be necessary to look one way, cross one lane of traffic to get to the safe center median, and then look the other way and cross the other lane.  The way it is now, there’s no safe place to wait in the middle of the highway.  In most locations, where it’s not needed for a left turn bay or left turn merge, it could be made into a protected island.  Another big benefit of these center median spaces is that they separate the traffic moving in opposite directions, significantly reducing the possibility of a head-on from minor lane drift.

Years ago, Stanford widened their internal narrow 2 lane roads at each crosswalk, and built a safety island in the center of the road so that a pedestrian has a protected location in the middle of the road.  And these are very narrow 25 mph roads.  I see no reason why that model won’t work here.

Comment 49
Thu, August 24, 2006 3:48pm
Carl May
All my comments

If one claims to care about the quality of life, preservation of positive values in one’s surroundings, sustaining one’s life through the most trying times, and leaving a future for one’s own species (including one’s children), then one cannot avoid the realities of population, resources, and subsidies for life provided by the natural environment. Blind faith in myth and magic, when in support of growth where further growth cannot be sustained or any other artificial and invented agenda is wrong every time.

In any region of California, where there is demand for housing due to population growth, expanded infrastructure, and especially new and or larger roads to hold greater numbers of passenger vehicles, *always* induces post-WWII-type growth through induced development. The examples are legion, especially in the large urban centers. Exceptions do not exist. So-called planning controls on growth are artificial contrivances that are compromises with the irresponsible growth and development industries in the first place, subject to change as political winds rise and fall and change direction. In practice, any limits to growth are repeatedly shown to be nothing more than approximate benchmarks. If there is demand for development and, most importantly, short-term money to be made by developers, there will be a push to set higher limits (such as buildout numbers) whenever existing limits are approached.

An entire sub-industry exists for selling growth myths to the public. The growth ethic is now as deeply accepted by many as personal religious doctrines. Neither kind of belief needs to resort to experience, evidence, or principle. Because myth and magic are taken on faith, no amount of failure permitted by public compliance due to belief in a thoroughly promoted growth ethic will sway true believers. Places like the coastside that are already environmentally degraded, increasingly unsustainable (and, consequently, less secure in terms of life support), and increasingly expensive in terms of obtaining the basics of life can *only* get worse with dogged faith that somehow this place will avoid going through what every other place goes through.

Who benefits from overgrowth? Only a few, and certainly not the poor car-confined dweebs sitting in traffic on four-lane or six-lane roads where once they sat in two-lane traffic, getting just what they bargained for even though they “believed” differently.

Once population-driven problems are recognized in a given area, it takes no genius to know what needs to be accomplished to turn things around and start making situations better for all.    Whether or not people, in general, will be willing to think for themselves, learn basic existing information, and dump irrational myths is the bigger problem.

Carl May

Comment 50
Fri, August 25, 2006 11:25am
Ray Olson
All my comments

I believe you are correct in your statements. I think I didn’t make myself clear.. I think the portion of hwy 1 between pacifica and montara should be 4 lanes since there is nowhere to turn off of. This would allow traffic to avoid a situation like an accident and still allow some level of throughput. The portion of hwy 1 from Montara thru HMB doesn’t necessarily have to be 4 lanes, but it has to be wide enough to support
it. For example, at any given time there might be a left turn bay, and a right turn bay, which would equal 4 lanes in width. I’m no expert on how to design a road so I don’t know exactly how it should be. In addition, I think we can reduce the amount of lights, by offering entries/exits onto the hwy, and provide overpasses at certain points to accomodate foot/bike traffic. This would be to prevent people from trying to cross the street in a hazardous manner. I like your suggestions.. I guess my point is that we should have a clear plan of how this should be, with steps to get us there.  And… we can do this and still have growth in check.

Comment 51
Fri, August 25, 2006 11:40am
Dan Blick
All my comments

Yow, Carl!

Many who read your posts here will think you’re a certified wacko.

However, the point of view you express is infinitely more sane, rational, and well-considered than the “prevailing wisdom.”

Thanks for sharing it here.


“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”  —George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


What is your answer to these problems you speak of? You know as well as anyone the population is not going to go backwards here or anywhere else in the world. People live longer year to year more births year to year = more people.
  Most persons who post here ask questions, seek further information and insight into a subject and give their opinion on how to change or execute an idea. Granted some are motivated by greed or a want to have things “their way” but many just want to make things better for everyone as a majority.
  In you post above you lump eveyone one who doses not share your reverse growth opinion as not careing about quality of life and / or able to think for themselves. I know this is a inflamed false statement becuae I care about my quality of life and last I checked I can think for myself and so can can just about anyone who posts and reads on coastsider.
  On that note yes I would love to see growth slow down everywhere in the world and not just here on the coast; but I know it is not going to happen. Why? see the stamant above. So I try to support a solid middle ground of makeing the best of it by voiceing my opinion getting my ideas out and listening to others and voting for what I determin to be the best option available.
  Here on the coast we have roads that need improvemnt, we have infrastructure that needs improvement we have a nearly failing school system that needs improvemnt we have natural resoure problems that need improvement along with new and dynamic ways to conserve them and use them in the most effective way.
  This is where I run into problems with no growth. Even if growth stopped would it fix things? In my opinion no; resources are still under pressure, the schools are still in poor shape roads are still in need of repair and inprovement for general and tourist use, access to shopping and variouse capital needs are still overly limited and high priced.
  So I ask again how does no growth fix our problems? Even if we put the brakes on now we stop in the middle of a mess, even if the population decreases her on the coast what do you have, I think you have the same mess with a few less people to deal with it.
  Another thought if no more peole are allowed to live on the coast side what does that really do for the coast side? Not much except remove then number of people tha can vote / fight for / petition for the rghts of the coast side. Water will still be used money will still be made and spent taxes wil still be collected; just not on the coast side.


I apologize for my poor grammar and spelling in my last post, Barry was kind enough to exclude a response scolding me for my errors. After I said “I can think for myself” it kind of makes you wonder :) guess I should refrain from posting first thing on a Sunday morning.
  Anyway Carl I am interested to get a response from you I know I have butted heads with a few of your posts; but I really do respect your devotion to the coast side. I just fail to see an end game in your statements and really would like to hear how you see this playing out for better or worse.

Thank you berry and fellow Coastsiders,



Comment 55
Tue, August 29, 2006 7:54pm
Carl May
All my comments


We all make embarrassng typos. I used to be an editor and cannot believe some of the things I have written when “live typing.”

I wasn’t going to reply to your message—not because of a few keyboarding slips but because your comments indicate you are doggedly stuck in a cornucopian growth perspective. I can point that out, but I can’t dictate a critical-thinking approach to someone who accepts the “inevitability” of an impossible situation on blind faith. I don’t doubt your sincerity, just your position based on an artificial and manipulated societal “ethic” that benefits a few (but only short-term) and degrades life for everyone (long-term).

More degradation of a place where people have already gone beyond “living off the interest” or the “fat” of their ecologic setting cannot produce improvement. Thus, “slow growth” or “smart growth” in a place that is already overgrown in terms of domestication and development of the landscape and the finite resources and other natural subsidies that support our lives is nothing more than a way of getting worse more slowly than with rampant growth. Until we can talk about human communities living sustainably within the physical realities of their environment, we can’t have realistic discussions about making the midcoast better.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to pop off from time to time about the impossibility of making something better or more plentiful by wrecking more of it.

Carl May