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Caltrans and Highway 1: The Long and the Short of It

By Chris Fogel, Special to Riptide

Currently, Highway 1 is 64 feet wide as it passes the quarry area*:
Caltrans states that the average eight-lane freeway is 132 feet wide**. This is the width of Interstate 280, including all lanes and shoulders, as you pass through Millbrae at Crystal Springs:
Caltrans' plan for Pacifica is to expand Highway 1 as it passes the quarry area to a width of 144 feet*:
In other words, Caltrans intends to expand Highway 1 in Pacifica, from Rockaway to Vallemar, to a width that is 12 feet wider than that of an eight-lane freeway.

Highway 1 (currently) = 64 feet wide

I-280 at Crystal Springs (8-lane freeway, average width) = 132 feet wide

Highway 1 (Caltrans proposal) = 144 feet wide
*Caltrans, Final Environmental Impact Report, Vol. 1, Fig. 1-5

** Caltrans, http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/paffairs/faq/faq92.htm


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"Will someone fill in the lower part of the quarry?"

Yes, almost 5 acres would be taken over by this "monstrosity."

I could make a model based on the cross section that would have before-and-after breakaway pieces illustrating just how much earth this proposal will take up, unless it's already been done. If the wonderful folks litigating this monstrosity would like to discuss, feel free to contact me.

Alan: Maybe this could be scaled up?

Had to laugh at this because it looks absurd. Highway 1 will be 144 feet wide? Where's all the flat space coming from -- will someone fill in the lower part of the quarry? It seems we will get a larger space to sit around in our cars waiting for the cars ahead of us to merge where the highway becomes narrower. Highway 1 is a mess during rush hour, but leaving 5 or 10 minutes earlier to get somewhere helps. During the summer (i.e., not many students at school) it's not so bad. This "fix" appears to be a halfhearted attempt to appease someone or something. No one would allow a heart surgeon to clear out part of their arteries but leave the rest to clog up.

Yikes! All that's missing is this:


Let's not forget that City Council could cancel this in two seconds: It is culpable in not having public discussions over the years -- at ANY TIME -- as is best practice under CEQA.

Instead, citizens had to have their own forums -- here's a video of one of those:


For anyone interested, I have some before-and-after pictures of this wicked evil highway here:


Unless you're on my blocked list.

The cross section view has a red dotted line that represents the topography as it is today, as well as the current highway width. If you look at the black line cross section, you can get a very clear idea of how massively this proposal will impact the local area. The red dotted line shows a LARGE mass of earth on the eastern side that will be removed, a great big triangle of hillside will be carved away to make way for the expansion of the highway, and a retaining wall close to 20 feet high will be installed in place of the existing tree-covered hillside along with the current pedestrian path.


Thank you, Chris Fogel, for these illustrations. It helps to understand what Caltrans is really proposing to do.

I get it that traffic can be a pain on Highway 1. But the reason so many moved to Pacifica and the coastside is that it is a rural (more or less) oasis in a heavily populated region. Putting in more lanes may (or may not) ease the traffic, but it would ruin the very thing that brings people to the coast.

Thanks to Chris for posting this. Caltrans' plan would basically turn Highway 1 into a freeway between Reina del Mar and Fassler and beyond. It would mean a huge change in the character of Pacifica -- and not for the better. Many businesses would be adversely impacted both during the years of construction and after. Visitors to Pacifica would be encouraged to speed through town even faster than they do now without even noticing Pacifica businesses. The mature cypress trees and wetlands to the west of the existing highway would be destroyed. This would affect views toward the ocean and also result in more traffic noise for those walking through Rockaway Quarry and Mori Point National Park.

144 feet wide -- this is 12 feet wider than an 8-lane freeway, and MORE THAN DOUBLE THE CURRENT WIDTH of Highway 1 now, which is 64 feet wide.

If Caltrans turns Highway 1 in Pacifica into another Interstate 280, will we at least get one of these?


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