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For everyone traveling to the coast via Highway 128, the gateway to the Mendocino Coast is the panoramic vista of grassland, ocean, and coastal terraces just south of Albion. It’s hard to not feel a sense of wonder when you arrive at this coastal cathedral.
At least for now. Because on February 10, the California Coastal Commission did Caltrans’ dirty work when they voted to severely reshape this beautiful, environmentally sensitive region.
By a 7–1 vote, the commissioners allowed Caltrans to widen the Highway 1 road prism by grading the Navarro Ridge wildlife corridor and adjacent Navarro Point Preserve. Thanks to their vote, dramatic marine terraces and slopes will be replaced by highly engineered, slide-prone slopes up to 60 feet high.
Caltrans says it’s about safety. The truth is, Caltrans’ goal is to build, piece by piece, a straighter, faster Highway 1 from Navarro Grade to Dark Gulch — a mini freeway pointed straight at Caltrans’ proposed demolition of the historic Albion River Bridge.
There are cheaper, less destructive ways to protect motorist safety and the coastal environment. There’s no good reason to speed up Highway 1 and deform the terrain surrounding the Navarro Point Preserve.
Why did the commissioners rubber-stamp Caltrans’ plans? Perhaps because Caltrans pays the Coastal Commission over $1 million a year to receive preferential design advice and permit processing. Something stinks about this arrangement.
To learn more about Caltrans’ destructive plans for Albion, visit the Albion Bridge Stewards website at http://albioncab.wordpress.com.
Annemarie Weibel, Member of the Albion Bridge Stewards