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Caltrans makes plans to manage traffic on Highway 1 

Caltrans has been working with an advisory committee, stakeholder groups, and residents along the 100-mile stretch of Highway 1 between Cambria and Carmel to develop a plan to manage the impacts of increased travel along the scenic route.

The goal of the sustainable transportation demand management plan is to provide a comprehensive framework to address the increasing visitor demand along the Big Sur coast, and Cambria residents weighed in on June 25.

John Olejnik, a project manager for Caltrans, said that residents brought up similar issues at all of the public meetings held from Cambria to Carmel.

click to enlarge DEMAND Caltrans is collaborating with a stakeholder advisory committee to address the increasing visitor demand along the Big Sur Coast. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CALTRANS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Caltrans
  • DEMAND Caltrans is collaborating with a stakeholder advisory committee to address the increasing visitor demand along the Big Sur Coast.

"They're concerned about the impacts of their quality of life because there's a lot of people parking on the road, and, sadly, there are a lot of people that are leaving trash behind. People are making messes and parking where they shouldn't be, and there's generally just a lot of congestion on busy weekend periods," Olejnik said.

He said there were other concerns about the highway being overused, and some residents asked if it could become a toll road—the agency can't charge people for using the highway because it's a public road.

The effort to mitigate the impacts of visitors traveling along this stretch of the highway began because Caltrans realized there was more traffic along the Big Sur corridor. Olejnik said that more specifically, it was the increased number of people visiting the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

"There was a big problem of the natural reserve being trampled to death because of so many visitors. There are a lot of cars, and a lot of cars parking on the highway," he said. "It was creating a situation that was not desirable."

These incidents are also happening along Bixby Bridge and Sycamore Canyon Road, which leads to Pfeiffer Beach.

With this information, Olejnik said, Caltrans saw an opportunity to do a planning study to implement strategies to manage transportation demand. Caltrans is still in the beginning stages of collecting public input and data.

By this fall, the agency will look into suggesting shuttle systems, limiting off-highway parking, and identifying potential electric vehicle charging stations. With the plan, Caltrans is also hoping to address the physical and environmental constraints that limit the ability to expand roads, parking areas, and other transportation infrastructure. Δ

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