Redwoods Trump Road Widening

cycling through redwood trees
Richardson Grove (CalTrans)

A federal judge has blocked the state from widening a one-mile stretch of Highway 101 that winds through Richardson Grove State Park in order to protect old grown redwoods along the narrow stretch in Humboldt County.  The state asked to widen the road to make more room for large trucks carrying lumber and livestock.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued a preliminary injunction July 6 saying that while a year delay may cost the state $165,000, the “scale tips sharply to the safety of our 3,000 year-old redwood trees.”

He said the public interest is best served by “letting the ancients thrive a little longer while the merits of their future are evaluated by the court.”

The state Dept. of Transportation argued that the winding road is only 22-feet wide in some areas and rear tires of large trucks may cross the lanes in corners creating unsafe conditions.

Environmentalists countered that widening the road would severely impact trees with soil cutting and filling and could kill many trees, including some that are thousands of years old.

Both sides were ordered back to court Dec. 1 to determine whether Caltrans should conduct an environmental study to consider alternatives to the road widening project.

Case:  Blair v. California Dept. of Transportation, C10-4360WHA

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