Almost 2? weeks after storm damage forced the closure of Highway 1 just north of Jenner, Caltrans announced Thursday that it intends to reopen the roadway to alternating, one-way traffic between Meyers Grade Road and Fort Ross Road by Saturday, weather permitting.
Caltrans said the partial closure will allow crews to conduct long-term repairs. Last week, the agency announced the full roadway would be closed indefinitely to allow repairs.
The closure raised concerns among coastal business owners who feared they would suffer from a lack of traffic. Several restaurant and lodge owners said the detour signs were not adequate, leaving motorists with the impression that the coast was inaccessible.
News that Highway 1 would reopen spread quickly along the coast. Caltrans will install signs and signals alerting drivers that they can proceed on Highway 1 or take the current inland detour.
"We're excited that our guests will have options in their travel routes," said Keith Hill, general manager of Timber Cove Inn, which is located at the north terminus of the detour, Highway 1 and Timber Cove Road.
Hill said he hopes the combination of the detour and the one-way Highway 1 traffic will encourage visitors to make the trek up the coast during the remainder of the holiday season.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who represents the Sonoma Coast north of Bodega Bay, said Caltrans informed him Thursday morning that it was working on improving the established detour around the damaged roadway.
Carrillo, Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, have been working with Caltrans to address local concerns. Among those is the state of the detour route, which, north to south, goes east on Timber Cove Road to Seaview Road, then to Meyers Grade Road back to Highway 1.
"That's definitely welcome news," Carrillo said. "Our county crews have been out there and Caltrans crews have been on Meyers Grade, Seaview and Timber Cove, conducting maintenance."
On Dec. 5, rain washed out a significant portion of the earth that supports the roadway. Caltrans said its engineers are still in the design phase of the repair work and was not yet a timeline for fixing the problem.