Letter:  Why hasn’t anything been done about the evening commute?

Letter to the editor

Posted by on Sun, July 9, 2006

Recent stories have reported that Caltrans is 50% complete with their repairs to Devil’s Slide.  The morning drive, thankfully, has markedly improved with schools closed for the Summer.

The evening commute, however, remains an ordeal beginning at 4:00 pm and sometimes lasting through 7:00 pm. Checking the 511 web site, getting from 280 to Highway 1 can take as long as 45 minutes.

What is puzzling is that for all the mitigation efforts to smooth the morning commute (now largely unnecessary for the next two months at least) there has not been a single tactic applied when we’re all trying to get home after a long day, now made even longer.

Early in the crisis, there were suggestions of making a "grand circle", routing one-way traffic from 92 and Main to Highway 1, changing the timing of the lights, prohibiting left turns onto Main St., etc. Not one of these ideas have even been attempted.

And unlike the "Free right turn" temporary traffic lights that have never been used, this is not a North vs. South of 92 issue.  It effects us all.

My question is simple: 

Why hasn’t the City of HMB or Caltrans done anything to try to ease traffic in the evenings?

If they can’t think of anything, I’m sure the residents of the Coast can offer any number of creative solutions.

We have another three months (and maybe longer) of rough commuting ahead of us.  Can we survive the status quo?

I’ve been complaining about this for a long time. I mostly teach afterschool sessions and the outbound commute is no problem, but it has added an hour, sometimes more, to the return joourney.

Improving the situation is not rocket science. A few traffic cops would keep it flowing, combined with an absolute enforcement of the double yellow line, so that no cross-92 turns are permitted during rush hour.

The 280/35 interchange is constantly a mess, with many red lights being ignored. A cop on the corner would eliminate that, even one that did nothing but drink coffee and eat donuts, handing out the occasional ticket to the boldly stupid who defy the law.

There should be designated places for making turns across 92, with a policeman stationed there, for example by the fruit/flower stands. A traffic cop can insure minimal interruption when such turns are required.

The refusal of the county to devote manpower to our crisis is reprehensible, and a good reason to toss out all incumbents at the next election.

The backup starts earlier than 4pm, as my wife hits the 280/92 interchange at about 2pm and often ecounters backups at that time.

The City of Half Moon Bay has a plan (with Caltrans) to provide barricades and restrict certain turning movements at Main Street and HWY 92 for the PM communte. 

Why isn’t this plan implemented? 

The plan is at this link: http://www.half-moon-bay.ca.us/Attention_Motorist_2.pdf

The traffic conditions warrant engaging the plan…so what is the City and Caltrans doing?

City of Half Moon Bay 650-726-8260 or 726-8270

Caltrans Public Affairs 510-286-4444


Myself and my husband often hit 92 right around 3pm. The back up starts as early as 2pm. One of the things Cal Trans could do is restrict trucks during commute hours. Especiallly the evening commute.

But something needs to be done. 

Everyone including my wife would like something done about the evening commute.{im retired but the long suffering wife commutes from Burlingame]Her pet peeve is @ 35/280 at times she finds traffic backed up to under 280 @ 4pm. As for doing something ever hear of “do nothing & you will never get in trouble” thats one of the reasons our bureaucrats do nothing!

Today’s commute was awful.

We exited Bunker Hill Road off 280 at 4:24 pm

Within 30 seconds, we were at a complete standstill.  It was a parking lot for about 15 minutes.

Finally the traffic started moving, slowly, in fits.

We heard on the radio there was an injury accident at Pilarcitos Creek.

Fortunately I had good company with my carpool so at least we could complain to each other.  And laugh when I stalled the car because stop and go traffic sucks when your car has a manual transmission like mine.

And the irony was being stuck in traffic when a radio ad encouraged people to visit the San Mateo coast, Pacifica and HMB, saying something about the coast being clear.  I would not encourage anyone to visit the coast until Hwy 1/Devil’s Slide is repaired.

I finally got home about 6:30 pm .. we left SF at 4 pm so it took 2.5 hours—twice what it takes on a “good” day.

Although I am not a commuter, when I do attempt to go over 92 I try to go at off peak hours. However, as most of us have discovered there is no such thing as off hours. 92 is a mess at all times of the day….
My question has to do with the Cal Trans sign in Montara that states the travel times to HMB and on 92… (I noticed it on Saturday July 8th)...
Why is it not by the airport so that those of us in Moss Beach can be aware of the travel times as well? Of course it doesn’t really make a difference, because if you have to travel into HMB or over 92, you have to sit in the traffic regardless of the travel times.  However, it would be nice to have a bit of heads up….

We are the cause of our own traffic problems here on the coastside.
When you voted for the tunnel, did you realize that it would take 16 years for completion? Sure the whole county voted for the tunnel, but the whole election idea came from right here on the coastside. Coastsiders were the biggest cheerleaders with our “sooner, safer, cheaper” bumper stickers and signs.
If left alone, Caltrans would have preceded on their merry way without interference and we would be driving on our bypass right now. Did you really think Devil’s Slide would hold up for 16 years without a major outage?
Why are voters content to approve parcel taxes without holding the school board’s feet to the fire to provide busing for our children? Too many of you were content to approve a parcel tax without this essential bus service being part of it.
If you want to see who is responsible for this traffic mess, look in the mirror.

The reason nothing has been done is that the downtown merchants have lobbied the city not to implement anything.  Only the delusional would believe that commuters are going to stop and shop if traffic is slow, but not if traffic is flowing unrestricted.  The people promoting the idea that downtown businesses will suffer greater losses if traffic restrictions are imposed must not commute themselves nor understand those who do.

If you are sitting (and that is the case for at least 3 - 4 hours each night )in bumper to bumper traffic for 40 - 60 minutes to travel 6 or 7 miles over Hwy 92, who in their right mind is going to voluntarily stop on the way home for some shopping or dinner?  No one - that’s who!!  If on the other hand, you can drive at a close to normal pace on the way home, perhaps you would actually have time to stop for some shopping or even a meal.  People will arrange their lives for the most efficient use of their time - this is a fact.  Most people can not start work at 5 or 6 a.m. to beat the traffic long-term, so they do whatever they can during times such as these to achieve normalcy.  Adding another 15-30 minutes for shopping is not going to happen no matter what anyone hopes or plans for.  The merchants should embrace the traffic plans and I would fair to guess that their business will actually improve.

Barrett Krieger
Moss Beach

“Too many of you were content to approve a parcel tax without this essential bus service being part of it.”

No, the problem was too many of YOU were content to deny the parcel tax without the “essential” bus service being part of it.  Holding “feet to the fire” is WAY different than providing some very necessary funding for kids.  The chance to get at the school board is in November, if that is your cause.  I can see folks being anti-tax (and really now, who is not?), but grudges solve nothing.  You seem to have a few.

Traffic was pretty darn manageable before the Slide went out.  Again.

“If you want to see who is responsible for this traffic mess, look in the mirror.”

Do you know Carl May?  He was supposed to be my driver throughout this traffic mess and he made me look in the mirror too.  Once I did that, I decided I probably could continue to brave the nasty 92 flower farm/circling hawk/placid reservoir annoyance I call a commute on my own.

Sirius 17.  Wake up, Jam On.  Makes it a whole lot easier.

Barret is absolutely right. Maybe we should get a hold of the pettion that the business owners circulated (and then gave to City Council) and go have a friendly talk with them.  I think the traffic is hurting their businesses since no tourist in their right mind would sit in traffic for an hour to get here during the weekdays.
I suggested a boycott of these businesses early on but that was a little drastic. Also on the weekend there should be some traffic control in the late afternoon for the tourists leaving town or else this will surely start to scare the regular visitors from the penn away.

Tim Pond

Many have described their experiences while driving.  Perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words.

You can see July’s commute times at http://lcp.sanmateo.org/trip/july.html

Click on any of the small images to see larger versions.

Graphs on the left are the morning commute showing two lines, one from Montara to HMB, the other from HMB to 280.

Graphs on the right are the afternoon/evening commute showing 280 to HMB (typically the much higher value), and HMB to Montara.

For the evening commute I still don’t understand why the Westbound 92/Main signal isn’t locked green but still allow the WB->SB left turn signal to happen.  That will allow people to get to the HMB Main Street businesses and also allow traffic to flow freely.  What would be the downside to implementing this?

I have no grudge against anyone on the school board nor do I object to school taxes per se. I would have voted for the parcel tax, even if it were for a larger amount, if busing was included even though my children are older and out of school now. The whole 13 years they were at Cabrillo they had bus service. During the last road outage, the school buses were packed with children so many parents could leave for work earlier.
I like looking at hawks and flower fields too, but this present commute is insane and hats off to all of us for weathering it thus far, because what choice do we have now but to endure? Let’s just make a better choice next time a parcel tax comes up and provide school bus service. It will help all of us, whether the road is out or not.


Makes sense.  The “peak hour” evening part of the “plan” that Carol provided the link to “allows” that left turn.

For some reason, that part of the “plan” seems to have a barricade to prohibit right turns from WB 92 to NB Main (along with cross traffic).  That does not make sense.

Anyone happen to call the City yet to find out the status?

Brian G., you are soooo right.

There seems to be several good ideas listed above.. How can this be moved forward? Do we need to attend an HMB council meeting?

And to Linda.. Oh how I wished I voted NO for the tunnel.

The morning commute seems to be getting worse again. At 09.00 a.m. southbound traffic from Montara to Half Moon Bay basically comes to a standstill. There is barely any room for southbound cars to turn left onto Highway 92 because the northbound traffic is allowed to keep turning right. It’s time to turn the traffic light on at the Highway 1 / 92 intersection to even out the burden of the morning commute. Yesterday it took me about 45 minutes from El Granada to Half Moon Bay and at least 4 phases at the traffic light to make a turn onto 92, while northbound traffic was flowing perfectly fine.
Who do we need to talk to in Half Moon Bay to make this happen?

The morning commute is definitely worse.  My kids are in camp in San Mateo, and when camp began during the last week of June, the morning drive was not too bad.  About 40 minutes from El Granada to the El Camino Real exit off 92 (one morning was only 30 minutes!).  This morning, at 8:15, the traffic seemed almost as bad as it was the 1st week the slide closed, and I guess I’m not sure how long it would have taken to get from El Granada to Half Moon Bay, because after waiting for 20 minutes without evening making it on to Hwy 1, I gave up.  Does anyone know what has happened to make the commute so much worse these last few days?  I heard on the radio that the traffic controls weren’t in place, but I called the City of HMB and they said that all controls were in place as usual.  Any info would be welcome!

This week the morning commute has been the commute from h***.  It took 50 min. to get from MB to HMB.  It takes me a bit longer to get to 92 ‘cause I have to drop my kid off at HMB HS but today getting back on to 1 took forever.

It has gotten worse and you CANNOT blame the schools for this because school is out.  So, all the traffic in April-June probably, mostly, was not school traffic.

Why is traffic worse in the morning?
For me, I leave later in the summer to go to a different job.  How about others?

Afternoon commutes to HMB have always been awful no matter if you are coming from SB 280 via 35, from 92 directly or from NB 280.  It gets bad before 4 and doesn’t get better until after 7.
To me the traffic usually gets better by the time I get closer to Main St.  I don’t think closing Main st. will do any bit of good at all since most of the initial jam is the 280/92/35 merge.

Why is school busing so much more important to people than things that matter at school such as books?  When I first moved here I couldn’t believe that they had free busing, and then when they stared charging I still didn’t mind.  When they stopped busing altogether (except for the de-segregation bit) I didn’t mind.  My kid took public transit to Cunha and still takes public transit to/from the high school.  Pacifica as well as most of San Mateo county schools DO NOT HAVE BUSING! 

Busing will not make traffic much better since the kids who took the buses are the same who ride public transit.  It is time for people to stop harping on that issue because the school district will NEVER be able to afford busing again.

Barrett Krieger and Tim Pond are right on target.

As a downtown business owner, I had co-authored a survey with Madeleine Sausotte, last year, to get a sense of why Downtown was financial struggling. It was bleak. 72% of the respondents had to rely on their spouse or partner to stay in business, all the while, the residents were having to trek 15-20 miles to buy a pair of underwear or a tie. Too often, cute little frou-frou shops displace the genre of shops that normally keep a functional community functional; a two-way system of loyaties that would normally keep local chartities funded. So, what do we have, disenfranchised residents, merchants selling to the wrong audience, and charities that require outside events to remain viable.

The majority of downtown commercial real estate has been hijacked by gentrifying, self serving interests that have no real intention on serving the needs of local residents. Their focus has been to elevate property values to the extent that service oriented businesses can no longer afford to do business there. They expect loyalty from the local residents when the tourist flow subsides, but then fail to see themselves as being a part of the overall problem when residents can’t find an appropriate mix of products. They would, rather, expect those alienated residents to assist downtown business owners in their time of need with more ads and discounts targeting locals.

Since that series of local targeting strategies has fallen on its face, the powers that be are making a massive campaign to, again, take care of its own and “merchant”  needs first by continuing to remind tourists that Downtown is still open, (even though the increased traffic might wreak even more havoc on already stressed out local commuters). 

This gentrification ultimately impacts, not only every business owner seeking to operate downtown, but a vast majority of the coastal population which has to bear the ultimate burden of that myopia.

Frank Long
Oasis Natural Foods




Brian Ginna wrote, in part: For some reason, that part of the “plan” seems to have a barricade to prohibit right turns from WB 92 to NB Main (along with cross traffic).  That does not make sense.

I haven’t seen “the plan”, but it probably makes some sense—it’s a fairly sharp right turn requiring most (sane) drivers to drastically slow down.  Doing so impedes the traffic flow.  I believe that this is one of the things that will be fixed with the 92/Main project.  However, that said, I see no reason why CalTrans can’t go out with a can of paint immediately and move the lines, narrowing the EB lane there (it’s wider than required) in order to shift the dedicated left turn lane south a tad and make it a bit narrower, and split what’s left to make a dedicated NB right turn lane.  Even as it is, if a smaller car is towards the left of the through lane waiting on the signal, smaller cars can squeeze past to turn right.  So it won’t take much of a shift in the left turn lane to enable creation of a real right turn lane there.

Heck, CalTrans doesn’t even need the can of paint.  Temporary double yellow lines come on a giant roll of tape (although they don’t last long if drivers can’t manage to stay off of them.)

OTOH, since the N Main right turn onto NB SR 1 is “no right turn on red” during commute times, I don’t see this as a big imposition—if I happen to unavoidably be there during those hours, I will generally take 92 to 1 to turn right instead of waiting for the green to turn right from N Main.  I’m sure that was a significant part of the intent of posting the “no right on red” hours.

I left Montara at 1000.

At 1010, or so, I came to a stop at Capristrano.

After sitting there for 3 lights I called KCBS traffic to find out what the problem was.

They didn’t know about any particular problem, but they did know that the police had been pulled on the 11th.

It took me an hour to get to Hwy 280. I saw the rudest driving I’ve seen since the slide closed last time (more than 10 years ago).


I called CalTrans and asked them what needs to be done to get the traffic light switched on so that everybody shares the burden.

I sent an email to the police chief in Half Moon Bay asking for better traffic control because that is mediocre at best. This morning I saw a cop at the 92/Main Street intersection let pedestrians cross 92, even though they stepped on the road AFTER their light turned red. Nobody prevents drivers from pulling up to the turn lane onto Highway 92 and then merging into that lane with complete disregard for anybody who has waited in line. In the El Granada intersection, people run red lights and block the entire intersection - no traffic control in sight.

Tomorrow I will call the mayor of Half Moon Bay and vent my frustration. And as for shopping in Half Moon Bay, no time - sorry, I am stuck in traffic….

Something must have changed this week to effect the morning commute.  Even if you discount last week as a light, holiday week, in the two weeks preceding the 4th of July, the morning commute was fine.

Is it the weather?  This week there has been heavy fog on the coast and up on Skyline and 92.

Has Summer Session started at CSM or in HMB Schools?

Or was there a change in levels of police presence - keeping everyone honest at the key intersections?

I left Montara at 8:00 am this morning and was surprised to see all of the cones removed from the Main Street & 92 Intersection by the time I arrived there at 9:00 - even though the traffic was still backed up to Moss Beach.  Didn’t it occur to the traffic control folks that if the traffic is still backed up that MAYBE they should leave the barriers in place until traffic reasonably subsides?

Or is the policy one of mindless adherence to the clock requiring removal of the barriers at 8:30 am no matter what the traffic conditions may dictate?

Nerves are frayed.  The entire Coastside community is under extreme stress.  Where is the civic leadership? From my vantage - they are lacking in courage and creativity.

During the afternoon commute, the main problem is the traffic light at Crystal Springs Reservoir where two separate lanes become one. Note that there is no “free right turn” at that intersection.

The above should be kept in mind by anyone who thinks that eliminating the “free right turn” from northbound Hwy 1 onto eastbound 92 is going to somehow solve the morning congestion problem. It won’t.

As for why morning traffic flow has been particularly slow over the last few days, I have no concrete explanation. It does seem, however, that there are a lot more large trucks on the road in the morning—-more so than I remember about a month ago. The trucks slow the uphill climb on Hwy 92 and the merge at Hwy 35. This slowdown propogates all the way back to Main Street. Turning on the lights at Hwys 1/92 is not going to solve that problem either.

This morning (12th) I left Coral Reef at 9:10 and got to HMB at 9:55. My partner left at 9:30 and turned around at Isabella at 10:20. And school is out, no less.

I watched as three people blatantly ran the red light at Coronado while the county sheriff’s car was parked right there at the light (probably having his third doughnut). I realize that everyone is frenzied, but being rude and ignoring the signals is not going to solve any problems. 

Reminds of the 1960 TV episode “Alas Babylon”; to quote the recap, “A grim vision of nuclear Armageddon replete with mobs ravaging supermarkets for what little food remained.” Can’t wait to see what happens here during an actual earthquake.

Frank Long



I have to strongly disagree. I have sat in traffic at the highway 1/92 traffic light not being able to turn left for 3 - 4 traffic light phases, yet traffic coming northbound on Highway 1 was flowing freely with NO backup whatsoever. With nobody yielding who comes northbound and everybody pushing into traffic on Highway 92 (and some of them being so rude that two or three cars try to get in front of you) there is simply no room left for more than a few cars to turn left onto Highway 1. Even though that traffic light has a pretty long green phase, it doesn’t help if there is nowhere to go.

Kirsten Loegering

This free right turn light issue can be solved if MOST ALL of us living in the north coast bypass the left on 92 and instaead drive one extra block south and make the u turn back onto north 1, then make the ‘free right turn” onto 92.  That way the people coming up from Ocean Colony and other points south will have more traffic to contend with.  If you go straight to Kelly and then u turn you will save 5 mins or more.

Thanks, Scott, for that terrific link to the travel-time charts.  Is similar data available for prior months?  I will definitely use these charts in planning my commute and other trips over the hill.

In re: the AM commute increase this week, I can add that the new electronic sign Caltrans put on EB 92 jwo Main St is both irelevant and a source of congestion.

This sign seems to have been added on Tues. PM this week (11 July, 2006) and commute times on the 12th and 13th have been markedly greater (approx. 60 mins from EG to 280/92). Speeds greatly increase after this sign demonstrating its maland its indication of the travel time from that point to 280/92 interchange is both innacurate and pointless.

What can be done to remove this?

Surely someone cares enough to get the traffic pattern back to the way it was (read reasonable for the conditions) the month previous to schools letting out. One surely cannot seriously believe that there are more cars on the road now than there were at that point.

Assuming that’s the case, other factors are at work and are likely to be light timings, lack of police supervisision/enforcement for those drivers who act as if they are more important than the rest of us and reasonable traffic control.

Can someone please help us and get serious? You were   doing such a great job!

1 hour, 45 minutes to get to San Mateo, and another hour in traffic to SF. One-way commute time=2 hrs 45 minutes today.

As far as the metrics, keep in mind they don’t include the time it takes to GET OUT of El Granada. AND the time you spend SITTING at the Route 1/92 left turn light. We timed ourselves against the 511 metrics and it is WAY OFF!

People are back from vacations and summer school (at least Spanish Algebra) is in full swing so NOW WHAT?

What is the solution? We are still in a political standstill about the turning light…obviously MY letter didn’t work since I didn’t even get a response from Cal Trans.

Night traffic starts at 2pm now on sime days. Took 2 hours to get home because of the motorcycle accident the other night.

SPEAKING OF MOTORCYCLES…I was passed by a swerving motorcycle when I was going 40 yesterday. This is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. We were moving fast and the motorcycles were still passing cars on the left.

Any ideas? I do the left turn at Kelly myself but it is still a road war for many.

Thanks for reading.


Robert Steger wrote:
“This free right turn light issue can be solved if MOST ALL of us living in the north coast bypass the left on 92 and instaead drive one extra block south and make the u turn back onto north 1, then make the ‘free right turn” onto 92.”

Robert, What makes you think this is not already happening? I know for a fact that it is. As expected, traffic patterns have adjusted to establish an equilibrium where travel times are roughly equalized across different routes (a.k.a. the efficient traffic hypothesis).

Consequently, turning on the signals to eliminate the “free right turn” would not be expected to change average travel times.

C. Jason Mancebo wrote:
“I can add that the new electronic sign Caltrans put on EB 92 jwo Main St is both irelevant and a source of congestion.”

I think you are onto something there. Even a slight slowdown for each car as people read that sign could have significant cumulative effects.

I checked with the city public works department.  No timing changes have happened with the lights.

Clearly, by looking at the trip time graphs at


it’s obvious that something significant has happened on the Hwy 1 southbound commute into HMB.

I’ll try to keep the graphs updated.

Kevin, the best way to resolve the disagreement over the free right turn is to try activating the signal for a few days.  What are you afraid of?

Your comment about some people making the U at Kelly and therefore there is equilibrium is simply false, because SB traffic is backed up way and you’re not counting the time it takes to get TO the 92/1 intersection in order to continue on to Kelly and make the U.

Again.  All this intellectual pontificating could be resolved by simply running an experiment for a few days.  Funny how most of the proponents of that live N of 92 and most of the opponents live S of 92.

I got a phone call yesterday sometime around 10 am or so from someone who was at Capistrano complaining that SB SR 1 was completely stopped.

The early leavers started leaving later when the leaving looked easy.  Soon they will leave early again and things will smooth out.  everyone should go to the school boalrd meeting and demand busses.  I think there is a meeting tonight.


Karen Flick asked about charts from earlier dates.  Yes, indeed! Charts for earlier dates can be found at the following addresses:


July (so far):

Traffic this morning heading from Montara to HMB is notable for the unbelievably sharp rise in travel time at 7:30AM.  What’s up with that?

Here is my guess (just from personal experience). Since July 4th week (or even earlier), many folks are thinking: Hey, traffic is not bad in the mornings so I don’t have to wake up at 5am and leave by 6am. So, more folks are thinking they can leave for work at an almost reasonable hour. Let’s see of things adjust next week..


If people with regular schedules could please carpool, that would also help.  I see alot of cars with single drivers ...

Linda, Re your 7/11 post the reason that the whole county voted for the tunnel is that the tunnel people made it a county wide vote some of my fellow workers asked me “why am i voting on this i dont live on the coast” i told them cause the tunnel people were afraid if left up to the coast we would have favored the bypass. At tunnel info sign up booths they made it sound like we were going to pave over paradise, we could have had a nice scenic bypass like scenic 280. Note that the tunnel people haven’t said a word since the slide went down. They will come out of the woodwork when the tunnel finally gets built, they will be doing the long arm [patting themselves on the back]on how great a job they did, bringing us this Later, dangerouus car in front of you on fire, costly, to all Calif taxpayers tunnel.
Lets hope our “litle Dig” tunnel fares better than Boston,s “Big Dig” tunnel where the roof is falling & has killed a poor lady. Am HMB resident since 69 & suffered thru the 95 Slide closure. Am now retired & feel for all the Coast commutors.

I received a call back from our Public Works Manager Paul Negengast today.  He said the City has implemented light timing to mitigate PM traffic congestion at Highway 92 and Main Street.

Main Street only gets a 20 second light and HWY 92 gets 4 minutes.

Obviously this is not enough.  The barricades and restricted turns have to be implemented.

I asked why the PM traffic plan the City has published is not implemented and he said because it is not necessary.

I asked how bad does traffic have to get to implement the plan and he could not/would not answer. 

In fact, he did not seem very familiar with the City’s own plan.

The plan is at this link: http://www.half-moon-bay.ca.us/Attention_Motorist_2.pdf

I’m guessing this link will be taken down today.

Paul did express concern over the downtown merchants and their disapproval of restricting access to potential customers. 

Barret Kreiger is correct: the downtown merchants have lobbied the city not to implement any traffic controls that could potentially restrict traffice to/from Main Street from HWY 92.

One small hope is that Paul suggested more monitoring and consideration would be given to restricting the right turn at Main.  But more monitoring must be done to determine if it is necessary. 

Paul Negengast 726-8265 Public Works Director/City Engineer

Still working on CalTrans.

Measure T was a county-wide vote because that portion of SR 1 is in unincorporated territory, controlled by the County LCP, and the only way to force the County to do something they don’t want to do is via a county-wide initiative.  There is no mechanism whatsoever for just one portion of the county to do an initiative against the county.  If only it were so.  Many people in the unincorporated Midcoast would dearly like to have a Midcoast-only vote on our LCP.  Then we’d see a 1% growth rate here.

I was not involved in the Measure T campaign, but my guess is that the statement ”[...] the tunnel people were afraid if left up to the coast we would have favored the bypass.” is completely wrong.  Does anyone have the statement of the vote on measure T in order to compare precinct results for T on the coast to those of the county as a whole?  I’m betting that the T vote on the coastside was at least as strong as the county average.

Oops… I forgot to include something in my previous comment.  T was technically not a vote for the tunnel.  T deleted the inland bypass as an allowed option for SR 1 and added a tunnel as an allowed option.  My personal preference is the other allowed option—permanent repair of highway 1.  If you want talk scenic roads, the current alignment is much more scenic than the inland bypass could possibly have been.

The entire county got to vote on Measure T (see http://tunnel.org) because allowing the project to change from a freeway to a tunnel or a permanent repair in-place required a change in the Local Coastal Program (the county LCP).

Changes to the county LCP require a vote of the people of the county.

The many people who volunteered untold quantities of time to the campaign would have loved to have been able to focus their energies on just the coastside.  It would have made the effort far easier. 

One great thing that came out of the countywide effort was a demonstration of just how much everyone loves the coastside, not just those of us who are blessed to live here.

The breakdown of the Measure T vote can be found on the web page at the following address:


Can we agree that Montara Mountain is an unstable, crumbling mountain and that tons of water leeches through it all year long.? What makes people think that the inside of the mountain is more stable than the outside? Just asking.

I believe most of the back of the mountain where the tunnel is is decomposed granite, as is the peak of montara mountain. Hike there and you will the the crumbling granular brown to grey rock on the old road cuts. This is a comparatively stable rock formation. This same kind of rock can be seen on HW1 until you get to the fire tower, where it changes to the layered (stuff (shale, serpentine??).  also, the inside of the mountain cannot fall into the ocean because it is on the inside of the mountain.

Whether the Tunnel is a good idea or not is a topic for another thread—and a moot point.

We are still faced with a steadily degrading evening commute and a morning one that has somehow reverted back to a form that preceeded Memorial Day.

One recurring suggestion is to block left & right turns onto Main Street and allow traffic to flow through the intersection to Highway 1. 

If indeed the Merchants of Main Street are the ones that are objecting to changes like this to the traffic pattern, they should consider the following:

1.  Locals will know how to get to Main Street if the Main x 92 intersection is rerouted for the evening commute.

2.  Tourists will be less inclined to turn around at Crystal Springs if they don’t see a backup.

3.  Nobody wants to shop after enduring a 45 minute stop and go grind over 92, unless they absolutely must.

4.  The afternoon traffic often extends after most shops close.

5.  The majority of shops on Main Street are seldom frequented by locals because of the merchandise they offer.

So please, let stop the bickering about Measure T and work on solutions to the present problems at hand.

Well, that tunnel feasibility study that Caltrans conducted, for one.

After reading it, I disagreed with some of their conclusions, but the basics were all there.

The instability of the outside that you refer to is driven primarily by the incessant pounding of the ocean at the toe of the mountain.  The slide action is compounded by seasonal rains that lubricate the exterior.

The similarities between that and the inside of the mountain slated for the tunnels really aren’t there.  Yes, the mountain is composed of several different kinds of material, just like the outside, but the tunnel alignment is not exposed to the same powerful forces of nature.

Additionally, the arch is the most stable architectural form.  Excavate a square hole through a mountain and leave nature to do its thing, and sooner or later that hole will have an arch for a roof.

So they’ll start with that shape, then reinforce it with “shotcrete”, and include drainage to minimize the effects of water.

Why does every discussion of Slide closure related traffic issues on Coastsider.com have to turn into a pie fight over the tunnel?

The bypass versus tunnel issue remains completely irrelevent to the daily commute woes. I know when my car is sitting stock still at Crystal Springs it’s the furthest thing from my mind.

I fail to see how deliberately stirring up arguments with your community members and fellow long-suffering commuters will make anyone feel better about sitting in traffic for an hour plus. If anything, it adds to the stress and tension we all feel.

The above posters who’ve noted the rude behavior of some of our fellow commuters may be on to something as well.

Perhaps we can all get through this tough time a lot more smoothly if we quit picking fights about what went wrong and if we quit pissing each other off on the road. Let’s be good neighbors for a change. Instead of complaining about lack of buses and bypasses, let’s save our voices for a community wide cheer when the Slide is fixed.


That’s the nicest post I’ve seen on the whole Devil’s Slide postings.

John Lynch


You want a permenant fix for SR 1 well that’s what we are getting. Like I have said before once the tunnel are built the local communities should take over the “old” road and charge a fee to use it.  The proceeds fromthe fee could go to help fund our schools so the tax and spend liberals will have more money to spend on the “children” without raising my taxes.

The work those “beauracrats” have approved is a Permenant fix.  I would be very surprised if that road failed anytime in the next 15-20 yrs, regardless of the severities of the winters.  The amount of work being done up there for a “temporary fix” is absurd.

Robert—If you have read Dr. Hovland’s report on the geology of the Slide area and how the level of the water table triggers a slide (basically, a lot of rain late in the season), you know that a permanent fix requires proper dewatering, forever.  No amount of concrete and steel can be a permanent fix without proper dewatering.  Few people believe that CalTrans’ dewatering meets the requirements in Hovland’s report.  Second, I doubt if anyone will continue to maintain the dewatering system once that section of road is no longer SR 1.  I can’t see San Mateo County spending a nickel on it.  We have no permanent fix because CalTrans doesn’t want one.  Note that even with the half-assed dewatering they installed post-1995-slide, the 1995 road repair lasted through some seriously wet seasons (1997/1998, 2004/2005).

That said, we still need to deal with the 92/Main issue for evening commute.  I’ve driven eastbound late in the afternoon, and I’m convinced that those who say the problem isn’t 92/Main but point instead to other locations like 92/lower 35 don’t understand traveling waves.  It’s fluid dynamics.  At a certain level of traffic, the red light starts a ripple which travels slowly east until it gets to where the road has more capacity at Crystal Springs.  The only way to avoid this is to avoid the red signal completely at a certain level of traffic.  (At lower levels of traffic, the flow can recover without generating a traveling wave.)  I’ve seen this travelling wave at peak evening commute even with Devil’s Slide open.

Again, the way to settle this argument, just like the free right turn argument, is to try an experiment for a few afternoons blocking through traffic on Main at 92 and all turns there except WB 92 ->SB Main.  Clearly the current “do nothing” approach isn’t working, why not try something different to see if it improves things?

The basic geology of Montara Mountain (including the extension known as san Pedro Mountain, where Devil’s Slide is found) is well known, fairly simple, and need not be the subject of wild speculation.

The decomposed granite is primarily on the surface—due to weathering. A few feet down the granite is as hard as one imagines for granite anywhere. (This gets into one of the many miscalculations Caltrans made when trying to justify the bypass—much more expensive blasting of the hard rock would have been necessary than they estimated in their plans and environmental documents. This was quickly discovered and pointed out by independent civil engineers.)

The twin tunnels will only be in the very solid granite at their southern ends. Most of the distance they will be in much weaker and more fractured metasedimentary Franciscan rock. Nonetheless, the lining of the tunnels in the weaker rock should make them quite stable—as is the case in similar rocks with tunnels.

(On the surface, The major landslide of Devil’s Slide occurs where the broken up metasedimentary rocks meet the granite. All along the northern California coast, and for some miles inland, weaker rocks, originally laid down as ancient seafloor, are fractured from past igneous intrusions pushing up from below and from the subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the North American Plate until it changed direction and now moves alongside the NA Plate in a strike-slip nature. This fractured rock makes landslides a common feature throughout coastal northern California counties, and highways cross these landslides in many places—sometimes continuously for miles!)

Why is the tunnel taking so long? Ask Caltrans. For one thing, if they had stayed with the single two-lane tunnel people thought they were voting for in Measure T, the project would have been much smaller with fewer and smaller environmental issues to be explained away. It’s no accident that continuing Caltrans promotion of the mountain-wrecking freeway bypass and opposition to a tunnel melted to almost nothing when they figured out how to spend as much or more on a two-tunnel design as they could have spent on the bypass.

Carl May


It’s a lot of rain, usually about three continuous weeks with no off days for drainage along the way, that puts enough water in the slide mass to add weight and reduce friction to the degree that part of it moves downhill a foot or three (on the surface). Looking at the dates of past slide outages (which have taken place every 10 to 15 years, usually in El Nino years), you will find this condition is not necessarily late in the season.

Carl May