OMG, Will the Hill Eat the Road Again?

OMG, the Hill ate Highway 101 last year and Southern Humboldt almost came to a stop. The road was completely closed for days and still is a maze of orange cones and signs. Intrepid local photographer, Kim Sallaway, was climbing the slide within hours and gave us a legacy of incredible shots and a sense of his personal bravery.  For months now we have watched as contractors manipulated masses of soil and restored the road.

An amazing change has taken place.

Kim Sallaway, who also took these recent photos says, “The picture [above] shows the view from the first shelf the workers created. There are two of them. They will form a “foot” for the land above to slump into should it move downhill. The hillside is spanned by rolls of burlap staked into place, to help stop downhill travel of small dirt and rocks. The surface is being sprayed with straw and grass seed, fired from a cannon pulled behind a truck. This is a dirty job. I itch when I lay down in straw. I can’t imagine how irritating the chaff from this would be.”


Kim says that “At road level, the situation seems quite dealt with. A climb up the hillside shows plenty of work has taken place to stabilize the hillside. However, this is a huge slide and it has not rained substantially since the repairs began. I retraced the climb I made during the first hours of the slide. The situation above the road is hopeful.”  However, he and others have worried–Will the hill eat the road again once it starts raining?

Kim thinks, “Above the carefully arranged new slope sits a very large area of unstable land. Acres of loose trees, roots, and dirt, are precariously perched where they all stopped moving as the slide was contained and subsequently rearranged by the crews of workers.”  Below are two photos that show “the mess that could easily slip out again.”

I asked Caltrans to respond to Sallaway’s (and others) concerns. Scott Burger, spokesperson for Caltrans replied with a quote from Senior Engineering Geologist, Charlie Narwold, (Below is a photo of Narwold also taken by Sallaway last spring.)  Narwold said, “The recently constructed earthen buttress and drainage facilities are designed to stabilize the lower portion of the landslide directly impacting the highway.  Future landslide activity above the recent repair is not anticipated to have a direct impact on the highway.  We are monitoring the performance of the earthen buttress and hill slope above utilizing instrumentation (sensors) and surveys.”

May the land and the road stay where they are.

UPDATE: Depending on the weather, of course, the job is projected to be complete by this Friday, November 18th.

_____________________

Thanks once again to Kim Sallaway–his photos are our windows into this area.

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23 comments

  • Imagine if Caltrans didn’t spend money on projects nobody wanted, like the ‘improvement’ project through Richardson Grove, or the straightaway between arcata and eureka…there could be a much bigger coffer of cash for the constant slides and real emergencies around here. Nobody complains when Caltrans fixes what IS broken, if they could only stop wasting money on what ISN’T broken.

    • Darn it, you poked the mama lion again. You know as a Caltrans family member now I have to stand up and say something. Just cause you don’t want it, doesn’t mean a lot of other people don’t. Caltrans doesn’t just grab some odd little area and say “let’s throw a million bucks at it.” People have expressed interest in an area being fixed. Go ahead and object to specific projects but remember that money doesn’t flow like we always think it should. I would love to see some of our smaller county roads get attention but state money and county money don’t go to the same place. Emergency road fixes come from different funds than repair which comes from a different place than whole new projects.

      • Not MY mama lion…

        one world, one love, one “money”…shouldn’t be wasted on unecessary construction. I bring it up because it’s only a matter of time before Caltrans attempts to shove it down everybody’s throats whether we like it or not…and a whole lot of us don’t like it.

  • I want Richardson Grove widened, it would be a great improvement. Don’t say nobody wants it because you aren’t everybody.

    • I take that back, random guy. The more I think about it the more I realize that with money as sparce as it is, unecessary construction is an avenue our county doesn’t need to build upon…literally. Just because the issue is kept out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind. Caltrans is going to try as best they can to make it seem like people who are opposed to their activities don’t know what they’re talking about, regardless.

  • I want Richardson Grove widened, it would be a great improvement. Don’t say nobody wants it because you aren’t everybody.

    • I take that back, random guy. The more I think about it the more I realize that with money as sparce as it is, unecessary construction is an avenue our county doesn’t need to build upon…literally. Just because the issue is kept out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind. Caltrans is going to try as best they can to make it seem like people who are opposed to their activities don’t know what they’re talking about, regardless.

  • Good reporting! On behalf of my Honeydew peeps I’m hoping the 101 stays intact. Last year it was like a freeway through there as people logged the extra windy miles through Bull Creek and over Wilder Ridge trying to make their commute, which made a serious impact on our road.

  • Good reporting! On behalf of my Honeydew peeps I’m hoping the 101 stays intact. Last year it was like a freeway through there as people logged the extra windy miles through Bull Creek and over Wilder Ridge trying to make their commute, which made a serious impact on our road.

  • Post left me a little confused, there is not actually a new slide, correct?
    Also, always feel grateful to Caltrans workers, try some of main roads in India or somewhere like that if you want to share the gratitude.

  • Post left me a little confused, there is not actually a new slide, correct?
    Also, always feel grateful to Caltrans workers, try some of main roads in India or somewhere like that if you want to share the gratitude.

  • The progress on this has been fascinating… first they removed the dirt and rock then they dug a huge ditch and filled it with rock creating a french drain of sorts. It empties through three culverts under the freeway. Finally they put all the dirt (except the now controversial Phillipsville fill) back on the rock base. Rather amazing. Sad for me as that hillside was magnificent and covered with an uncommon herb, all gone now. Even the remaining patches were destroyed in the project.

  • The progress on this has been fascinating… first they removed the dirt and rock then they dug a huge ditch and filled it with rock creating a french drain of sorts. It empties through three culverts under the freeway. Finally they put all the dirt (except the now controversial Phillipsville fill) back on the rock base. Rather amazing. Sad for me as that hillside was magnificent and covered with an uncommon herb, all gone now. Even the remaining patches were destroyed in the project.

  • I HAVE FOUND IT FASCINATING on a daily basis as the months have gone by. I can’t wait til it’s done. I also wonder where all these guys eat and sleep? And where do all these many trucks come from and who coordinates them? I know where they get their rocks because they go right past my property and they aren’t really that quiet. But thank you for fixing our main artery.

  • I HAVE FOUND IT FASCINATING on a daily basis as the months have gone by. I can’t wait til it’s done. I also wonder where all these guys eat and sleep? And where do all these many trucks come from and who coordinates them? I know where they get their rocks because they go right past my property and they aren’t really that quiet. But thank you for fixing our main artery.

  • I just drove the stretch of highway. All the orange cones are gone and it is open to 4 lanes of traffic. I am impressed with the amount of work the crews accomplished before this year’s rains begin for real.
    THANK YOU!

  • I just drove the stretch of highway. All the orange cones are gone and it is open to 4 lanes of traffic. I am impressed with the amount of work the crews accomplished before this year’s rains begin for real.
    THANK YOU!

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