North Coast Journal: “Why aren’t Humboldt’s rural roads getting fixed?”

Another in a series of informative articles on our local transportation infrastructure from the Journal highlights the dangerous disrepair of many rural roads.  Putting road maintenance and repair first – particularly where basic access is at risk – is CRTP’s top priority.  Maintaining and repairing roads before conditions become so bad is far cheaper in the long run, but with such a deficit in transportation funding, officials are just doing “triage”:

“‘We currently have between $200 and $250 million dollars worth of deferred maintenance,” [Humboldt County Public Works Director Thomas Mattson] said. ‘I do not have anywhere close to enough money to bring our roads up to an acceptable state of repair.’ … Keeping up with the basic maintenance of roads — cutting back brush, cleaning out culverts and repairing potholes — requires $20 million a year, according to Mattson. He currently works with a budget of $10 million, meaning the county accumulates about $10 million in deferred road maintenance annually.”

This state of affairs really highlights the importance of prioritizing maintenance and repair over projects that add new capacity – particularly new capacity for heavy trucks that do disproportionate damage to our roads.

Read the full article here.

Letter: Canceling STAA Access Project Needs to Be on the Table

From the Triplicate on January 12th:

“The meeting on the 2016 Regional Transportation Plan was jam-packed with folks from Crescent City, Hiouchi, and Gasquet, among other places, to the surprise of Project Manager Jeff Schwein. A large percentage — two-thirds to three-fourths by show of hands — were there with concerns about Caltrans’ project to alter Highways 199 and 197 to allow the longer STAA trucks….

The point I wanted to make, but was cut off, is that funding can be rescinded and projects canceled. We need to free up as much money as possible to handle what Jeff stressed is a “crisis in funding” for Del Norte County roads….”

Read the full letter here.

Triplicate: Last Chance, STAA Hot Topics

From the Del Norte Triplicate:

“…The letter EPIC submitted Monday night as its formal comment on the Regional Transportation Plan touched on many of the things said by opponents of the project all along: namely, that widening and straightening the highways to allow access to larger trucks will not make the already windy and precarious road any safer, and puts the pristine Smith River at greater risk of spills…”

Read the full article here.

Eureka’s Dangerous Intersections: A Tale of Two Agencies

A recent article from the North Coast Journal about ongoing efforts to reduce serious traffic accidents in Eureka is timely and enlightening.  The City of Eureka has taken the sensible approach of mapping the most dangerous intersections, identifying the causes of crashes, and (in addition to stepping up education and enforcement) “identify[ing] problems with road layout, visibility, signage, signal timing and other safety issues.”  Contrast that with Caltrans’ approach to the roads under its jurisdiction.  Rather than following Eureka’s approach of identifying dangerous spots and figuring out what can be done about them, the state agency, as usual, is trying to justify road capacity increases with unsupported safety claims.  It seems almost unbelievable a transportation agency would argue with a straight face that adding lanes – and thus increasing traffic speed – through a busy downtown would increase safety, but that’s exactly what Caltrans is saying.

Read the full article here.