From the Aug. 11, 2010 edition.
By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer
The Trinidad Rancheria is proceeding with its plans to build an overpass across U.S. Highway 101 between Trinidad and Westhaven. The interchange would provide direct access to the Rancheria, which at present can only be accessed through Scenic Drive.
Trinidad Rancheria Chief Executive Officer Jacque Hostler said that the proposed overpass is important for a number of reasons: It would relieve traffic on Scenic Drive; and provide additional emergency access to the Rancheria in case of road closures.
It would also be an integral part of the tribe’s efforts to expand its economic base, which may include a 50-room hotel, community center, office buildings, RV park, and gas station.
During the winter of 2010/2011, the tribe plans to hire a consultant who can develop a Project Scoping Report (PSR) for the overpass.
The PSR, which is required by Caltrans, will contain preliminary engineering plans, right-of-way information, environmental scoping, and anticipated funding sources for the overpass’s design and construction.
Hostler said that the Rancheria is partnering with the Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans, and the County for the project.
The overpass idea was first made public in a charrette, a series of community planning workshops, sponsored by the Rancheria in May 2009.
At the time, the idea received a mixed reaction from the public.
Another charrette will be held starting November 5, and this time, the theme will be broader, focused on land use and planning within the Rancheria. The tribe wishes to expand its business base and develop a 20-year master plan, similar to the General Plans written by counties and cities.
“It will end with some zoning and ordinances that are crafted for the Rancheria, regarding natural resources and land use,” Hostler said.
Only the first and last sessions of the charette will be open to the general public. The remaining sessions will be restricted to focus groups composed of tribal members.
The Trinidad Rancheria has nearly completed two miles of improvements to the northernmost section of Scenic Drive, which connects the Rancheria to the village of Trinidad, widening the road’s shoulders, stabilizing the bluffs, and improving the drainage.
However, the Rancheria has maintained that it needs the additional access from Highway 101 because Scenic Drive is unstable, unsafe, and frequently slides out during winter storms.
The charrette is being funded by Caltrans through its Environmental Justice Grant for Comprehensive Community Based Transportation Planning program.