Update: Supervisor Hopkins thinks its a great project….
I live a few miles north of Jenner off Highway 1. I cherish everything about our beautiful coast, including enchanting drives along our twisting, rural section of the Coast Highway. This is why I am, to be blunt, horrified at the proposed Gleason Beach realignment. I was shocked when I first read about the planned bridge in the paper, perhaps a year ago, at which time it was presented as a fait accompli.
This is a problematic section of the highway, but that does not justify building a massive bridge that will forever destroy a magical, beloved section of the coast. From the jarring interruption of the pastoral coastal scenery, to the terrible noise bound to be produced by the bridge, to the likelihood of unsavory activities occurring both above and below it, this is simply a terrible idea.
Sadly, I am not surprised that Caltrans has proposed this over-scaled monstrosity. I’ve seen far too many scenic stretches of our state highways ruined when the agency, needing to make modifications, slavishly applies the full slate of its extensive design/engineering standards, resulting — against all common sense — in a solitary section of road having a far greater width than any other nearby section of the same road is ever likely to, thus necessitating additional ugly road cuts or other adverse impacts. The project at issue seems to follow this pattern.
Caltrans juggles many considerations and must design and build road improvements for a long service life. Even so, the current project seems unjustified, not to mention grotesquely inappropriate. The current road bed is minimally built up as it passes the low area in front of the beach and I’ve never seen it anywhere close to flooded. Wetland impacts can be mitigated, whereas nothing will mitigate the horror of a giant bridge and its reverberant noise permanently obliterating Gleason Beach and its environs.
Please do everything you can to halt this ill-conceived project. There are many threats to the coast, some very difficult to mitigate. With the Coronavirus pandemic, the Sonoma coast has been struck by a devastating tsunami of tourists, transforming this paradise overnight into a Disneyesque circus where every beach and trail is at or beyond capacity and vehicles clog once-quiet roads, nearly bumper-to-bumper, for dozens of miles. In the midst of this heartbreaking situation, we emphatically don’t need self-inflicted wounds, such as the proposed bridge.