Activist digs up treasure in the trash

Tunnel supporter stumbles upon CalTrans old freeway plans

Half Moon Bay Review, May 14, 1997

By Eric Rice

Dumpster diving can be a historically valuable hobby, as Pacifican Mitch Reid recently discovered.

On a recent outing to Oakland, Reid stumbled across an outdated painting of a six-lane Highway 1 that someone had plucked from the trash cans behind the California Department of Transportation's East Bay office. Mistakenly entitled "Rockaway Beach," the artist's rendering from 1970 is of the Linda Mar section of Highway 1 just north of the now-defunct Martini Creek Bypass. It shows a six-lane freeway slicing through the southern end of Pacifica en route to Montara Mountain and the Coastside.

Reid knew a good deal when he saw it and scooped up the painting for a paltry $4.

"It was just too cosmic, I thought," said Reid, an activist against the bypass and a fervent supporter of the Devil's Slide tunnel proposal.

Reid marvelled at the odds of randomly coming across such a find. He was shopping in Oakland on San Pablo Boulevard near 30th Street for used furniture for his business when he wandered by a junk and collectibles shop. Embossed on furniture stacked outside the shop were CalTrans nametags. Inside he saw more discarded CalTrans materials, including a stack of photos and a rendering of an old, long-since-rejected proposal to extend Interstate 380 from San Francisco International Airport to Pacifica through what has since been designated Golden Gate National Recreation Area protected land.

The shop's owners told him they acquired the material by rummaging through CalTrans dumpsters. Reid, who in 1995 earned something of a reputation as a sleuth by uncovering estimates by CalTrans for a tunnel on Highway 1 through Devil's Slide, thumbed through the stack of pictures and found the rendering of Highway 1 at what would have been just north of the Devil's Slide bypass.

"To run across this beautiful painting was a real treat," Reid said, noting that all of the drawings prepared for the bypass that he had seen previously were unrevealing schematics lacking the context of the painting.

"You could see that was what their vision was for Pacifica in 1970," he added. "It shows you what (CalTrans') intentions were or what they felt was the future."

The picture shows the Linda Mar area of Highway 1 with controlled access on and off of the freeway. Within the one-block area shown in the picture, six bridges and one overpass were envisioned.

"For $4 it was well worth it," Reid chuckled.

Half Moon Bay Review