Dear June Morrall,
As a Coastside commuter for the past 20 years, I have an interesting observation for you: One of the important things every commuter does is listen attentively to the radio traffic reports on AM 740 or AM 810.
They provide valuable information. Sometimes the Bay Bridge toll plaza is overloaded. Usually the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge is a big problem. Those are chronic situations but never ever before has a constant traffic problem been totally ignored by these traffic reporters.
They no longer talk about 92 and Devilâs Slide. Occasionally thereâs mention on the general news usually telling us the date for reopening Devil’s Slide is even further out. When it comes to the Coastsider’s twice daily commute agony, it’s as if everybody else in the Bay Area has suffered amnesia.
Keep up the good work, June.
From: âIâm also mad as hellâ?
June: I just got home and I followed two garbage trucks that turned from Crystal Springs onto 92. It was slow going all the way, until they turned into the dump, then it was smooth sailing into town. This happened at twenty minutes of 4. Whatever business they had at the dump, they could have done it after 7 p.m.
The garbage dump used to be near the beach in the early 1970s. The passage of time has blurred the location but it was down a dusty road near the beach. And there stood a funky wood shack where a tall, skinny guy took money for dumping “stuff”. I recall there was a giant white golf ball that marked the spot.
You wouldn’t think going to the dump could be fun but this WAS fun. (Being a City girl, I’d never been to a dump before but the guy in the shack and the golf ball, well, together they were academy award winners).
Today–as we drivers all know only too well– because we see the garbage trucks everyday– they’re either in front or in back of us heading for a once unspoiled canyon off Hwy 92– that’s where the garbage is dumped today.
I was there once or twice–I didn’t want to come back– there were many screeching seagulls, and all that accompanies that– no trees, and it wasn’t memorable–except that I still wonder why anyone in a responsible position would sign a contract to make this remote location off a busy two- lane country road the dump for most or some of San Mateo County.
Maybe we should revisit that contract again.
Since 1970 the Coastside has grown and grown and grown. The dump is located off Hwy 92, a very busy road– and today the only road for hardworking Coastsiders to get to their jobs on the Peninsula. Oh, you could take Hwy 1 south and then go east to reach the Peninsula—but the roads going east are not much more than quaint wagon trails–I’m exaggerating but not by much. (Of course, the reason the roads south of Half Moon Bay are “crude” is because (1) not many people live there and (2) the roads going east take you to the wealthy suburb of Woodside and in this horsey town with no sidewalks, I would bet the residents don’t want to see Coastside commuters.)
I am absolutely not lobbying for more Coastside roads or for widening the existing roads, such as they are. We don’t want a dump near the beach, either. And, obviously we need garbage trucks–their drivers and workers are hardworking folks, too, I know.
But common sense tells me that until Devil’s Slide is reopened, the commuter is the victim and he/she should have the right-of-way on Hwy 92. Perhaps garbage trucks should– during this temporary emergency (meaning until the old Devil’s Slide roadway is reopened)– use Hwy 92 during off-commuter hours– even late in the evening.
Even before the Slide was closed, it was difficult for the garbage truck drivers to negotiate their way over Hwy 92–the trucks are big, sometimes stuff flies out of the truck bed–they really need the entire lane, commuters and drivers can’t pass them easily–and when the trucks get close to the official “dump” they clog up the road, hugging the shoulder but still significantly slowing down commuter traffic. At one point I even saw the Californa Highway Patrol directing traffic on the road outside the dump because of the extreme congestion–and that was about a mile from the town of Half Moon Bay.
Please email me, give me your ideas for alleviating traffic on Hwy 92 and I’ll post them. Thank you for the emails I’ve already received.
If you love the Coastside and you love nature, you’ll weep when you see this “before” image of Ox Mountain, today the garbage dump for most of the county. The use of Ox Mountain as a garbage dump has produced a scar that can be seen from miles around. We must ask again, why on earth would a responsible person make a deal for a garbage dump to be located on a two-lane country road?
P.S. We LOVE carpools and commend all those who organized and participate in the program.
Today, Tuesday, I was driving back to Half Moon Bay on Highway 92 at 1 p.m. when it became clear that something bad had happened. (The all too familiar signs: No visible traffic heading east and traffic heading west was stopped.)
Obnoxious delays on Highway 92 are almost a daily occurrence– but wouldnât it have helped me, the commuter, the driver, to see a sign along the road advising me what had happened and how long it would take to clear up. Especially during this very difficult time when Devil’s Slide is closed and the entire Coastside is dependent on one little road.
âAccident, Tow Truck, Road Closed, Minor Injury, Serious Injury Accidentâ?âimportant, possibly life-saving words that alert me the driver so that I can make a rational decision based on valid, current information. A decision to proceed, turn back, make a call to my loved ones, that kind of a decision.
(Occasionally, I’ve seen a sign lit up on the San Mateo side of Highway 92–but not lately)
And no signs today.
Thankfully, the delay wasnât due to a major accident. I âthinkâ? a car died and was dragged to the side of the road. I say âI thinkâ? only because I saw a car and a tow truck pulled off to the side.
It was much worse last Saturday when Highway 92 was temporarily closed for several hours–and a sign alerting me of the accident (on the Half Moon Bay side) would have caused me to turn around before I ended up locked into a knot of traffic half way up the mountain which eventually caused my engine to overheat.
Had I known a mile earlier, I would have had the option of turning around, and I would have returned homeâor decided to sweat it out in the line. At least Iâd know what had happened and Iâd have options.
But I had no options and there was no sign alerting me of what lay ahead. I didnât know the severity of the problem until I turned on the radio and was told an oil tanker flipped over on 92. An oil tanker tipping over is a very scary thing. For me, the driver, being unable to move forward, backward or sideways while knowing that an oil tanker is lying on its side not far from me (ready to explode?) strikes fear in my heart.
You see, half way up that mountain you can’t turn around–there’s a concrete barrier in the middle of the road. You’re stuck. God forbid, if there’s a raging Coastside-Oakland Hills type fire (how will county fire trucks get to us using only one congested road?) or an earthquake?
Of course, it turned out that the radio news report was wrong. But I didnât know that for another hour, when I moved the fifty car lengths and reached the top of the mountain where a friendly California Highway Patrolman set me straight; itâs a water truck, he said, not an oil tanker.
Iâm calling for signs on Highway 92, alerting the commuter, the driver, the visitor, what has happened when there are delays and how long the delays are expected to last.
Today turned into an awful day.
We decided to take a ride to Berkeleyâwe would have taken Highway 1 north but with the Slide a broken link in the road, we had no choice but to drive over Highway 92.
It was going so smoothly, hardly any traffic heading east and I was smiling when I said to Burt, âLook, no cars in the other lane.â? There werenât. There werenât any cars.
And then, I burst out, âThere must be an accident. Theyâre holding the traffic back.â?
I only said that because there were no cars coming west. And then we saw a few, you know, as if something bad had happened and the cops were flagging a few cars through at a time.
We figured it was minor, nothing that would wreck our day. We kept driving (remember the traffic was light going in our direction) and we were so happy planning our day until going we were going uphill, and opposite Lombardiâs (closed) Springâit was then and there that we locked into heavy traffic that wasnât moving. Two lanes– standing still– on the hill.
We switched on the radio to traffic & weather togetherâand the first story was about the accident on 92. The reporter said an âoil tankerâ? has turned over on the highway and was blocking both lanes. The road was closed to traffic heading east, which meant us.
Maybe an hour later we reached the top of the hill, very concerned because our car was overheating. At Highway 35, or what I call Skyline, the cops had us turning right. They wouldnât let us go any further east on 92.
People were pulling into the rest stop, double-parked, and a lot of them were looking down the mountain at the accident. We pulled in, too, to check out our engine and canceled our plans to visit Berkeley. After a kind stranger from Pacifica poured coolant in our engine, and reassured us that our car was going to be okay, we took 35 to Kings Mountain Road and on to Woodside.
While at the rest stop, I talked to a cop directing traffic and asked him if an oil tanker had turned over. âNah,â? he said, âit was a water truck.â?
Thereâs the media for you. The thought of an oil tanker turned over kind of scared me.
Our day was ruined but in the grand scope of things, as Iâve said before, that wasnât too bad. Just a couple of hours wasted waiting on the road because thereâs no alternate route.
What does worry me is this: These days the Coastsider has become complacent, infinitely patient. Nothing bothers the Coastsider, Nothing upsets the Coastsider. Nothing phases the Coastsider. He/she has become indifferent to everything.
You know what Iâm talking about.
This time I just canât understand how the Coastsider can remain so indifferent about relying on one road while the other is undergoing repairs that they estimate will take four months, in time for Pumpkin Festival, which Iâve mentioned before.
Where are the people who are âmad as hell and not going to take it anymore?â?
I have lived on the Coastside for 35 years. I have owned a home for more than 30 years and pay taxes. I have written about the Coastside for 30 yearsâbecause I love Half Moon Bay, I love Ano Nuevo, Pescadero, San Gregorio, El Granada, Princeton, Moss Beach and Montara with all my heart. I have devoted thousands of hours researching Coastside history, collecting photos and writing about the history….
I cannot remember when both Devilâs Slide and Highway 92 were closed. Today it happened. Devilâs Slide was closed and Highway 92 was temporarily closed. I wasnât scared but I sensed âa where do we go nowâ? feeling at the top of Highway 35âthere were folks, young people, who didnât know the area.
Can you imagine, God forbid, what kind of chaos we would face if something really serious happens within the next four months?
Where are our real Coastsider leaders?
What a weekend it was.
Last Saturday night, not only was Devil’s Slide shut down, the phones lines were down, the internet was down– God forbid if you had an emergency and had to call 911 because all you got was a busy signal (and one that sounded like a racing heartbeat).
For some unexplained reason the TV worked throughout.
And the local news told us that a landslide on Highway 92 (the only road open now that Devil’s Slide has slipped away) caused the service outages.
The time estimates on when service would be restored varied from unknown to 4 p.m. to midnight. Bay City News got it right on the button–around 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon the landline came back to life, followed closely by the cell phone & 911 and the Internet. (We celebrated…quietly).
During the hours we were “without connection to the outside world” we took a ride “over the hill” and saw the many phone company vehicles parked near the cemetery, presumably close to the site of the landslide. There’s been construction going on there and a fiber optic line had been severed. (Don’t think too hard about that!).
We listened to the radio news and a county official confirmed coastsiders couldn’t get through to 911. Until phone service was back on line, he said police vehicles had been stationed at signal lights along Highway 1. Cops were told to roll down their windows so they could hear anyone shouting for help.
24 hours without phones, without Internet, without 911. Funny– when we got it all back, we took it all in stride, as if nothing had happened at all.
As a dear friend always says: âIf you hang by the neck long enough, you get used to it.â?
Ever wondered what WAS inside the House of Doors on Highway 92?
Way back when Anne Howe lived in the House of Doors–which was composed almost entirely of doors–she was going to sell antiques to the public but the idea was dropped because of the awkward location of the entrance/ driveway.
The outspoken Anne Howe became a famous member of the Half Moon Bay City Council, one of the most colorful as she had been a successful madam in San Francisco.
Yesterday morning I left the house on time for an appointment–but then I got on Hwy 92:
Yeah, I’m complaining. Two weeks ago my boyfriend gets rear-ended on Hwy 1 and I learn that it’s very common these days to get rear-ended on Hwy 1 during morning commute–and then I get on Hwy 92, I’m on time, and — I get stuck in an endless line of traffic and I’m late, very late.
We might as well post insurance reps on the highway to settle damages–or maybe issue a disclaimer to anyone moving here along these lines: Yes, this is paradise–but you’ll probably face a line of cars on your way to work andyou might eeven get rear-ended.
This is getting to the point of ridiculousness. We’ve known about the problem as for years now more folks have been moving to the Coastside than there are roads to accommodate their vehicles, not to forget visitors from other places. You know, the tourists, the surfers, the walkers and bikers. The people who support our businesses.
More importantly, what happens if there is an earthquake?