Media examine Coastside life without Devil’s Slide

Posted by on Wed, April 26, 2006

The County Times and the Mercury News look at how the closure of the Devil’s Slide is affecting the Coastside.  The County Times in particular focus on the effect on tourist-oriented businesses.

This past weekend saw less than a tenth of the normal tourist traffic at Pillar Point Harbor, according to harbor district officials. That, in turn, has meant a 25 percent drop in business for nearby seafood restaurant Ketch Joanne. The restaurant also lost 50 percent of its business over Easter weekend.

Albert Dunnes family has owned Ketch Joanne for 35 years. They barely survived the five-month closure of Devils Slide in 1995. But now, for the first time, Dunne said his family is considering leaving the coast and taking the restaurant with them.

The Mercury News has a great quote from Caltrans,

"We go out there and we put our bulldozers on this massive mountain, and they look like Tonka trucks, and you realize that the mountain is a lot stronger than we are," Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss said. "In the end, the mountain will win and the slide will be in the sea."

Still, he said, engineers are confident they can fix the slide with new technology that uses a web of cables under the roadbed.

Barry- Another resident in Montara has emailed caltrans for their maintenance records for the past five years for devils slide. I want to get her permission before I forward it to you. She commutes to hercules in the north bay.

I lost the email it was a comment on a sunny day video on the 13th in which the email stated having main st at the olympic gas station become one-way from 4-7pm with both lanes going one-way past ocean shore to 92.  The bottleneck at bunker hill & 280 starting about 3:30pm is terrible. We have to do something to improve this part of the commute over 92. The person that sent the email lives in montara he had about 6-7 items but this one seemed the best. If the main st merchants complain, customers can just go to highway one, turn left, go south to kelly & turn left on kelly, two blocks up to heart of main st.

Another idea which so far is mine is to start a ferry service to fishermans wharf. I have already spoken to water transit authority, 4/13 article in the sf chronicle. It is doable just have to get a few test runs with a ferry, probaly a hover craft, catermaran might betoo rough a ride. Would be about 1.5 hrs each way, may be able to emergency funding.

steve habelow
<email>[email protected]</email>

It’s truly sad to hear about the pain local businesses are feeling.  I can only hope that they survive the next few months and that we as a community help out as much as we can. 

For the next few months, when as my wife and I consider going to San Francisco or other bay area restaurants for dinner, we will instead try to help out coastside neighbors and friends by giving them our business. I would hope others would consider doing the same.

As a sales director who works at home in Montara,  I feel a bit detached from all the pain suffered by other citizens and local businesses who depend on a steady stream of visitors. Stories such as these serve as important reminders that we as a community are indeed impacted by the slide(s).

Hi Steve,

You are referring to the post I made on the “Sunny Day” article.  Here it is:

A very simple solution exists for the 4-7 PM end-of-the-workday backup, which would allow traffic to flow down Hwy 92 into Hwy 1:

1. Force all westbound Hwy 92 traffic to turn right onto N. Main Street, and make N. Main Street 1-way toward Hwy 1.

2. Force all traffic coming up Hwy 1 from the south to turn right at Hwy 92; to continue north on Hwy 1, they would then make a left onto the one-way N. Main Street, merging in with the many cars coming back from over the hill.

3. Close off the northbound lanes of Hwy 1 between Hwy 92 and N. Main (or use them for sounthbound traffic that wants to turn left onto Hwy 92).

4. Close off the westbound lanes of Hwy 92 between Hwy 1 and Main St - or better yet, use them for eastbound traffic.

5. Make all traffic coming out of Strawflower turn right; to go east or north, cars should exit near the McDonalds and merge left to turn at Hwy 92, and so on.

6. Set the traffic lights to support continuous flow of traffic in the new pattern, with breaks as needed for pedestrians, perhaps.

These counter-clockwise traffic patterns are used to handle vast amounts of traffic in other parts of the country, such as New Jersey, where I became familiar with them.

I’d be glad to explain further if anyone wants to explore putting this idea into practice.

Hal Bogner
<email>[email protected]</email>

From’s citation of the Mercury News article:  “Still, he said, engineers are confident they can fix the slide with new technology that uses a web of cables under the roadbed.”

Ok… to what are they going to anchor the ends of the cables?  I suggested in 1995 and again this time that they build a bridge over the relatively short slide zone.  They have steadfastly refused to consider it, responding tersely that there’s nothing to anchor it to.  Well, if they can anchor the cables for a short term fix (i.e., until the tunnels are open), they can anchor a bridge for a permanent fix.  Their “web of cables” sounds to me like a Q&D bridge.  If we can build buildings that are 1/4 of a mile tall, we can build a bridge much shorter than that over a slide zone.  A quick Google search shows that there are free-span bridges many times as long as what we’d need here.

I still want to know what’s really wrong with the Marine Disposal Alternative (MDA) or the Modified Marine Disposal Alternative (MMDA)?  My understanding is that with the MDA/MMDA they would carve off the part of the mountain which slides, push it into the ocean where it’s already falling, and build a new shelf for the roadway.  The explanation that I heard way back for what’s wrong with this is that dumping too much will hurt the ecosystem in that part of the ocean because it would be more material over a shorter time period than would naturally drop into the ocean.  Well… now it seems that if we weren’t doing anything to protect the road, Nature would periodically drop large amounts of rock into the ocean anyway.  Therefore, it’s a natural process, so why can’t we just pick when it’s going to happen?

This sounds very difficult and feel for the businesss.  At the same time, how can businesses get creative to get more sales?  Is it lowering prices a bit to drive more local sales? Is it a local event to get people into their stores?

It is difficult when local businesses are so dependent on tourism.  Maybe switching gears to appeal to us locals would help.  I have money to spend, and I would love to spend it locally, there just are very few stores out there that appeal to me or are in my price range.


Is/was the MMDA a short-term solution for the recent slide or a long-term solution that was an option that perhaps lost out to the tunnel?  Sorry, I’m not familar with it.  Carving of part of the moutain and building a new shelf just sounds like a very long-term project.

The MMDA was probably killed before I moved here in 1994, so I know little about it other than the basic concept and I can’t add anything further other than I believe it was to be a permanent fix for having the highway on the ocean side of the mountain very close to where it is now.  Now that the tunnel construction has started, this possibility is lost forever.

As to whether it’s a long term project, an engineer will have to comment on that.  I’d guess that it could be completed in a small fraction of the time that it will take to build the tunnels.  The earthmoving to remove the slide and carve a new shelf on solid ground for a short distance might be less than the amount which will be moved to build the tunnels.  In fact, how much did they already move at the southern approach?  It’s probably comparable.  There must be some old reports which give numbers regarding the MMDA.

Regardless, I remain convinced that engineering has little to do with the decisions regarding Hwy 1 between Montara and Pacifica—it’s mostly politics.