State, County, and Private Construction Workers Wrestle the Roads Back Under Human Control
After hills and rivers swallowed roads throughout March, residents in Humboldt were delighted to see Government and private construction workers wrestle highways and streets back into place. Never have hard hats and yellow vests gotten so much respect. Locals are delighted with the progress on both the massive slide that closed Highway 101 for almost five days and the dropout on Briceland Road. Kim Sallaway (well respected local photographer—check out his reggae work here) said that he was “amazed at the progress” on 101. He was impressed at the new pavement and how there is plenty of room for two large trucks to pass. Note the photo below in which a large semi coming towards the viewer has easily passed a large semi headed away from the viewer.
As of Monday evening, there was one way controlled traffic but Caltrans’ Public Information Officer, Julie East, announced that by Tuesday morning, April 5, the highway will be opened to one lane in each direction 24 hours a day!
Compare the photo above with the one taken last Wednesday after the hill swallowed the road.
The crews have developed a relationship with the slide in the long hours they have been toiling like ants on the massive mound of soil and trees. It has a gender and a personality. “She’s still moving,” they say. “She might get away if we don’t watch her.”
Engineers and technicians are taking measurements and conducting tests so they can stabilize the slide and rebuild the four lane highway through the spot just a few miles North of Garberville.
Throughout the night and into the day, crews are working double shifts to monitor the land for movement. They are continuing to “dewater the slide” by creating drainage and they are repairing the roadway while the lines of traffic rush by hurrying to make up for lost time.
Asked how she was holding up this afternoon, one of the exhausted workers explained that she had been working since 2 am and was “gum and numby.” Later, she amended that to numb and gummy.
Because of the incredible skills and hard work of the crews, Sallaway says, “Youwould never know that four days ago this was a disaster.”
Above were photos of the Highway 101 slide. Below are photos of Briceland Road.
Here the water has receded to nearly normal levels near Whitmore Grove.
The land’s natural beauty is shaking off the muck of the last month.
The road bed built by the county workers holds strong.
Sallawy told me that in the midst of the storms when he was photographing the county workers struggling to rebuild the Briceland road, the excavator operator had been muscling his machine for hours, deftly placing large boulders and moving earth. Yet when his machine was temporarily not needed, he crawled tiredly out of the cab and filled the pot holes with a shovel. “He just kept going, tired as he was,” Sallaway said admiringly. “Getting the road open was his job. Whatever needed to be done, he did.”
Thanks to all the workers who did what needed to be done so cancer patients could get chemo treatments, so students could get to school, so food could be trucked in. We needed you and you were there.