California Department of Transportation

Welcome to the Highway 1 Big Sur Coast Highway Management Plan

 
Highway 1 at Big SurBig Sur Coast Highway Management Plan logo

Frequently Asked Questions

How did the CHMP come about?
Who are the stakeholders?
What does the Scenic Byways program regulate?
How is the corridor defined?
How will the CHMP affect me?
Who approves the CHMP?
What are intrinsic qualities?
How will the plan affect regulatory agencies and their involvement in activities along Highway 1?
Where does funding for the development of the CHMP come from?
What sources will be used to generate funding to keep the plan and associated activities alive?
How can I get involved in this process?
What does All-American Road designation mean and why is it important?
What is the National Scenic Byways Program?

How did the CHMP come about?

The CHMP was undertaken in the aftermath of the 1998 El Nino storms. Slides and road damage at over 50 locations along the Big Sur Highway impaired emergency services and left residents, visitors, and business owners effectively stranded for several months.

Prior to the 1998 storms, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) had designated Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast as an "All-American Road" under the National Scenic Byways Program. The Byways Program offered an opportunity for Caltrans to undertake a collaborative process that would address not only storm damage related issues, but also several other concerns frequently voiced by corridor stakeholders. Among these concerns were roadside clutter, invasive weeds, traffic management, and resource protection.

The CHMP is the result of diverse interests coming together for a comprehensive assessment of the corridor and finding strategies and actions to preserve and protect the corridor into the future. The CHMP has no regulatory status. It is a roadmap for achieving a vision for protecting corridor resources while operating Highway 1 safely and efficiently.

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Who are the stakeholders?

Stakeholders are persons who have an interest (stake) in how the highway is managed-not only for its utilitarian function for transportation but for way that is compatible with and respects the quality, character and integrity of the place it traverses. At the outset of the CHMP process, interested persons representing more than 65 organizations participated in a series of well-publicized town hall sessions sponsored by locally elected officials. Eighteen of these participants volunteered to serve on a Steering Committee to help guide the plan's development. The Steering Committee includes representatives of public agencies, local interest groups, businesses, and residents, as well as public officials. The Steering Committee and other stakeholders have worked together for the past five years to identify the important issues, evaluate the issues in depth, and find workable solutions.

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What does the Scenic Byways program regulate?

Nothing. The CHMP is the result of a voluntary process to identify ways to address commonly held concerns. The FHWA, which administers the Scenic Byway program, provides guidance for preparing corridor management plans such as the CHMP. This program allows for plans to be tailored to meet local needs. The Scenic Byways program is not a regulatory program.

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What are intrinsic qualities?

Intrinsic qualities are unique and irreplaceable features or resources that define the character, or essence, of Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast.

 

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How will the plan affect regulatory agencies and their involvement in activities along Highway 1?

Regulatory agencies, such as Monterey County, the California Coastal Commission, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, are participating and guiding the development of the CHMP. This involvement will allow the CHMP to facilitate decision-making for activities which may be subject to their jurisdiction.

 

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Where does funding for the development of the CHMP come from?

Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are funding this planning effort from two different funding sources: the State Planning & Research program and the Federal Scenic Byways program.

 

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What sources will be used to generate funding to keep the plan and associated activities alive?

Various sources of funds will be sought to implement the CHMP. Individual projects may be funded from existing sources for transportation projects or through state grants and federal funding programs. Activities associated with changing practices may need additional funding. As specific recommendations are developed, potential funding sources will be identified.

 

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How is the corridor defined?

End points to the corridor corresponding to the Big Sur Coast, the area addressed in the CHMP, are easily defined. To the south, the crossing of San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County marks a dramatic change in topography where the highway begins to climb the steep slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Some 75 miles to the north on Highway 1, another geographic feature, the Carmel River, marks departure from El Sur Grande, the "Big South", and entry to the Monterey Peninsula.

Corridor width, an extent east and west from the highway, is not so easily defined. For purposes of managing the highway, the narrowest conception of the corridor is the state right-of-way, which is generally 80-feet wide and controlled by the Department of Transportation. This narrow strip of right-of-way, however, both influences and is influenced by a number of factors that exist beyond the right-of-way. These factors were raised as issues in the early phases of scoping the planning effort.

Addressing the full range of issues raised by stakeholders required looking at the areas that correspond with the different issues of concern. For example, in consideration of landslides, storm water and debris flow activity that can affect highway reliability, it is necessary to think about the coastal watersheds, which originate on ridges above the highway and continue downslope into the Pacific Ocean. A general conception of the coastal watersheds is depicted on the corridor map and provides the regional context for the plan.

In characterizing the intrinsic qualities of Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast, areas of different widths were used according to methodologies appropriate for each resource. In each case, the highway itself was the point of reference. The areas inventoried for these resources are in relatively close proximity to the highway and within the coastal watersheds. For evaluating visual quality, an area known as the viewshed is referenced. The viewshed is the area seen from the highway and is the most variable in size. In some places, such as along the forested Big Sur Valley, views are confined to the immediate roadside; in other places, views extend for miles along the coastline and out to the horizon.

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How will the CHMP affect me?

Caltrans owns and has statutorily defined authority and responsibility for the highway right-of-way. The CHMP includes a number of actions intended to improve operations and the appearance of this narrowly defined corridor. These actions address such topics as shoulder width, vegetation management, presence of roadside signs, as well as anticipating and responding to storm events that affect the highway.

The CHMP neither changes nor recommends changes to any existing rights, privileges or lines of authority; Caltrans retains its authority within the right-of-way; private and public landowners and managers retain theirs respectively. Development continues to be regulated under the Coastal Act with the authority held by the local governments and the California Coastal Commission as defined by law. Respecting these lines of authority, the CHMP identifies voluntary actions intended to encourage collaboration towards restoring and preserving the corridor resources such as native habitats, historic fabric, ocean views, the culture and way of life so many cherish.

After the CHMP has been ratified, a successor organization (generically referred to as a Byway Organization) to the Steering Committee is proposed. Like the Steering Committee, the successor organization would be comprised of stakeholders representing the diversity of interests and responsibilities, and would continue the collaborative work and provide a measure of accountability for what has been laid out as a foundation in the CHMP.

Ultimately, public agencies working together with the community and other stakeholders can become more effective in fulfilling their respective missions.

 

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Who approves the CHMP?

Although there is no formal approval process for the CHMP, the plan is expected to be ratified by the Steering Committee with a signature from each of its participating organizations. This gesture would document the collaborative process and acknowledge a commitment to continuing in this manner on solutions to ongoing or new issues that are raised over time.

 

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How can I get involved in this process?

Our Get Involved/Contact Us page has contact information for this project.

 

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What does All-American Road designation mean and why is it important?

The National Scenic Byways program recognizes the treasures of America's finest roadways and the experiences that traveling them bring. Under this program, the Federal Highway Administration has designated over 80 byways, including 15 All-American Roads, a distinction reserved for thoroughfares that are considered destinations unto themselves.

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What is the National Scenic Byways Program?

Under the National Scenic Byways Program, the US Secretary of Transportation recognizes those roads that are outstanding examples of scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, archeological and/or natural qualities by designating them as either National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads. FHWA markets these routes to the public. The program covers public roads and highways and is a voluntary effort. More information is available at the program website, accessible at www.byways.org.

Source: Fact Sheet available at http://www.byways.org/media/public/designation2000/fact_sheet.pdf, Accessed on May 9, 2001

 
Last updated: July 24, 2007