Rep. Huffman plans visit to Last Chance Grade, Pushes for Long-Term and Durable Solution
Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) spoke to state and federal transportation officials yesterday after news that a retaining wall at the south end of Last Chance Grade on U.S. Highway 101 had failed and collapsed a lane of the highway. While the road remains open to one-way controlled traffic, the failure underscores the need for a permanent solution to the landslide-prone stretch of highway.
Rep. Huffman will hold a community town hall in Del Norte County in April to discuss local issues, including the situation at Last Chance Grade. Interested constituents can subscribe to his newsletter here to get more details.
“I spoke with the head of Caltrans and the Federal Highways Administration’s Sacramento Office after learning about the failure of the retaining wall,” said Rep. Jared Huffman. “I was assured by both agencies that they are diligently pursuing both short- and long-term solutions, but it is clear to me that we need to quickly step up the planning, authorization, and funding to avoid a future catastrophe at Last Chance Grade. I plan to visit Del Norte County in the coming weeks to hold a community town hall and to personally inspect the damage and convene a meeting of our stakeholder group to help find a durable solution to this increasingly risky situation.”
Two weeks ago, Huffman sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown along with Assemblymember Wood and State Senator McGuire asking that Last Chance Grade be considered one of the top infrastructure priorities in California. The California Department of Transportation has spent nearly $40 million maintaining the four-mile stretch of Highway 101 since 1981. Last year, the governor’s office declared a disaster due to storm damage in Del Norte County and Last Chance Grade. A significant failure would force a detour of eight hours and cost the local economy alone $130 million per year, Huffman and the state legislators told Gov. Brown.
To consolidate and expedite these efforts, Rep. Huffman also convened the Last Chance Grade Stakeholder Group, consisting of representatives of Del Norte County, Crescent City, landowners, tribes, environmentalists, community groups and others to get the broadest possible support for a project that will pass through or near sensitive environmental and cultural areas and will continue to work for a solution that is viable.
You can read Rep. Huffman’s op-ed on the topic here.