"Caltrans has been studying the problem of how to deal with Highway 1 at Devil's Slide for decades."More accurately, they have been proposing a particular solution for over a decade. They also have some information that they have collected over the years about what the slide has done and what maintenance they have done. They have also done a modest amount of geological surveying to assess the nature of the slide. Having looked at much of the material, it is clear that they have either (a) not released all of the material they have, or (b) they haven't done as much studying as they suggest.
"Now, only a few weeks after the road is closed, they have abandoned the MDA in favor of a 'new vision' - a tunnel."In fact, the Sierra Club's initial proposal back in the early 70s was a tunnel. Given the new information from the volunteer group of engineers and geologists, the Sierra Club chose to focus on what appears to be the best available solution in terms of cost, safety, and ecological impact.
"Caltrans studied the tunnel alternative in 1973 and again in 1986."Yes, they did. They studied a two-bore tunnel and rejected the proposal because of cost. Reducing the scope of the project (to a single bore), and using modern tunnel digging methods, the cost estimate is, naturally enough, just about half of the cost of the two-bore tunnel. The reason Caltrans gave for rejecting the tunnel was cost, not safety, nor feasibility. Given the materials they have released, they never studied the tunnel long enough to make an informed judgement on either topic.
"If Caltrans decides to build anything except the bypass, they must return the money."Perhaps. However, with a little bit of legislative action (which Sen. Kopp and others have already said they will not support) the money could be shifted to a better solution. Saving tens of millions of dollars strikes me as a good reason to go write a little legislation.
"The time for study is over. Class was held and dismissed years ago. Now is the time for action."It's this kind of attitude that may result in blindly pursuing a course of action laid out over a decade ago. Caltrans has not kept pace with changes in the attitudes of the community, nor have they done due diligence in looking into an alternative that may prove to be just as buildable, while saving money and providing a more drivable road in the process.
Supervisor Nevin's attitude leads to embracing the spending of close to $100 million dollars without questioning whether we are going to get our money's worth. It seems that his time for study was over before he learned all of the facts about the claims Caltrans is making. Maybe he just doesn't like studying, but I'd prefer he go back to school before running roughshod over our community, our wallets, and the mountain. To borrow a quote: A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
-- Scott Boyd, Editor, Montara Free Press