The Cambrian

County panel to discuss formally backing Hwy. 1 fix at meeting Wednesday

A Caltrans worker waves to cyclists as he rolls over the bike lane north of Cambria on Highway 1 on Tuesday.
A Caltrans worker waves to cyclists as he rolls over the bike lane north of Cambria on Highway 1 on Tuesday.

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments has informally discussed several times the rough surface left after the resurfacing of 20 miles of Highway 1 north of Cambria. Wednesday, the council will discuss making a formal recommendation encouraging Caltrans to smooth the chip-sealed pavement before June, when the tourism, driving and bicycling season goes full throttle.

Individual SLOCOG members have expressed their support for such a recommendation. Some, including Chairman Frank Mecham, have expressed willingness to personally approach state officials on the matter.

Meanwhile, a Caltrans test project continues between Cambria and San Simeon, with a heavy rolling device going back and forth over selected shoulder areas to see if that work will hasten the natural settling of the chip-sealed surface by pressing the larger-than-usual aggregate rocks down into the pavement.

Caltrans has collected data from the test, according to spokesman Jim Shivers, but has not processed it yet. “The results and findings will be announced in May,” he said.

Despite the rolling, rocks are still being kicked up by passing vehicles, according to some who say their windshields have been damaged recently.

According to Sharon Evans, a member of the Camria-based Slabtown Rollers Cycycling Club, some people who filed for damages in January or later have been told by Caltrans that their claims were too late, because rocks had been repeatedly swept from the road, which removed the likelihood of damage.

But journalist Christine Heinrichs and Mel McColloch, president of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, say their vehicles were damaged in late March.

McColloch, who has been outspoken in pressuring Caltrans to fix the pavement surface by June because of the potential negative impact to area businesses, said he’d parked his car and was on foot, checking the “rolling” tests March 19 when he heard “a truck go by and the rocks hit the car and windshield. The rocks pitted the windshield.” After he made trip covering more than 800 miles, the pit “turned into a dime-sized crack,” he said.

Shivers said March 25 that Caltrans has received “19 claims at this time with a few more still outstanding.  We can’t be more specific because of the attorney-client guidelines.”

That claim count doesn’t include McColloch and Heinrichs, who don’t plan to file for reimbursement for repairs. Others have banded together with an attorney to get their more recent claims paid.

Meanwhile, bicyclists say the surface in the test-rolled area doesn’t appear to have improved much.

“It’s still a hand-numbing, foot-numbing” ride, according to Art Chapman of the Slabtown Rollers group.

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