Jessica Cejnar / Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 @ 5:55 p.m. / Community, Infrastructure

State Transportation Commissioners to Visit Del Norte

Though California Transportation Commissioners are expected to be in Del Norte County for only one full day this fall, Tamera Leighton says she hopes to make a lasting impression.

The Del Norte Local Transportation Commission’s executive director says she plans to take state officials on a tour of Last Chance Grade and have them drive up U.S. 199 when they visit on Nov. 6.
They’re also expected to visit the Crescent City Harbor, the Del Norte County Regional Airport as well as city and county facilities, Leighton said.

“We want to show them and not tell them; that’s my goal for this meeting,” she said.

The California Transportation Commission holds public meetings in rural communities two times a year, Leighton said. This is a relatively new practice and Del Norte County is one of the first rural communities to host a public meeting for the state commission, she said.

Leighton said to her knowledge November’s visit will be the first time the entire California Transportation Commission has visited Del Norte County.

A two-hour public meeting is planned for the state commission’s visit, Leighton said. But she hopes to make a lasting impression by showing them the community’s problem areas.

“We can give an hour-long presentation of Last Chance Grade and it’s not going to make the sense that it makes by standing there for 10 minutes,” Leighton said of the project to reconfigure U.S. 101 around a landslide about 9 miles south of Crescent City. “By seeing and not being told about it makes a long-term lasting impact. It gives them an understanding so when items come before them (for a vote), they have a much better understanding about the challenges and how we’re meeting the community’s needs.”
Leighton said she’s also collaborating with local Native American tribes to determine how they can also can participate in the California Transportation Commission’s visit.

According to Leighton, the transportation commission will fly into Crescent City the evening before the meeting, spend a day in Del Norte County and fly out the morning after. She said she’s hoping to find a way to get commissioners to the area before it gets dark.

The California Transportation Commission’s visit comes as Caltrans is soliciting bids on a $31 million contract to take the Last Chance Grade project through its environmental permitting phase. The Transportation Commission has allocated a total of about $50 million in state and federal dollars to start the preliminary engineering, geotechnical studies, structure design and environmental studies of the Last Chance Grade project.
Caltrans expects to have a contract issued by late December, Last Chance Grade project manager Jaime Matteoli told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard noted that the California Transportation Commission’s visit presents an opportunity for them to see projects that have been community priorities for more than 10 years, such as Last Chance Grade.

The CTC’s visit also gives them an opportunity to see local street and road projects.

“More importantly it allows the CTC to see what we do with local dollars,” Howard said.

The California Transportation Commission’s last town hall meeting was in Chico in April.


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