Bring the troops here to fix Devilâs Slide
Yesterday, I left home in El Granada at 9:50 a.m.: it’s only four miles to Half Moon Bay but forty minutes later found me mired in traffic on two-lane Hwy 92 about a mile east of Half Moon Bay.
It was confirmed that there had been an accident–a big, locally owned commercial truck hit head-on and the traffic was impossibly backed up. As I crawled up the mountain I saw quite a few cars strewn on the side of the road, with steam spewing out of their overheated engines.
It took me 1 & 1/2 hours to drive from El Granada to 280 in San Mateo, a ride that used to take 20 minutes. The stagecoach in the 19th century did better.
(There was one benefit: at this very slow pace I enjoyed the beautiful coastside scenery that I hadn’t noticed in years when whizzing byâwhat a terrific opportunity to practice patience and meditationâ-unfortunately, the meditation led to drowsiness and I realized, with lids growing heavy, that I better stay alert or Iâd fall asleep at the wheel).
Later, on the way home (youâd better make your return early, or you hit the commute traffic and youâre back bumper-to-bumper) I shopped at the Half Moon Bay Safeway. Another âvictimâ? standing in the checkout line was calculating the cost of driving âover the hillâ? and back–$20 was his calculaltion. He was numbed by his own mathematics.
Itâs incomprehensible that there is no solution, even temporary, to reopening the breathtaking stretch of Highway 1 known as Devilâs Slide.
Itâs alleged by some that “the U.S. military can build a road anywhere in the world in about two hours”. Hey, how about bringing the troops to Devilâs Slide? It would give these young men and women a healthy and useful project to work on.
If getting the army to Devilâs Slide isnât possible, remember weâre just a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley and Stanford, the birthplace of high tech– and we âre drowning in Nobel Prize winners. Surely someone can come up with a solution to get Devilâs Slide re-opened.
In the grand scale of things, a broken road is a very small deal…but what if one day we had a real disaster like an earthquake or a tsunamiâ¦I shudder at the thoughtâ¦.
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?
Commuting Coastsiders are holding their breath….but officials say it’s only temporary, a matter of hours– intermission time at Devil’s Slide.
I guess you should know that I will miss the old Devil’s Slide route. Thinking about getting stuck in traffic inside a tunnel makes me feel helplessly claustrophobic. I hope they put in skylights and picture windows!
(Photo above shows a rock slide at Devil’s Slide decades ago)
In the mid-1990s storms closed Devil’s Slide for several months. Closed the road. With my friend and neighbor, Peter Logan, we drove as close as we could get to the “Slide”, parked the car and walked the rest of the way, a thrilling experience. Then we could go no further–Peter’s photo shows the reason why: