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State Route 1 Gleason Beach Roadway Realignment Project in Sonoma County

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The Gleason Beach Highway 1 Realignment project proposes to realign a 3,030-3,800 foot, two-lane section of Highway 1, approximately 400 ft. inland of the current alignment at Gleason Beach. Gleason Beach is located in Sonoma County, about 5 miles north of Bodega Bay and 5 miles south of Jenner. At the current rate of coastal retreat, it is expected that the 87-ft. section of roadway at Gleason Beach abutting the coastal bluffs will be undermined within five years. The purpose of the project is to provide a safe transportation facility that is no longer vulnerable to advancing coastal erosion. Current design alternatives include the construction of a bridge where the proposed realignment crosses the Scotty Creek floodplain. The proposed length of the bridge varies between 750 and 900 ft.; the bridge structure will change the visual character of the coastal landscape looking inland from Gleason Beach. The project will require several property acquisitions. This project will require the preparation of environmental studies pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

This project has several challenges, such as continuing to provide public access to Gleason Beach for beachgoers while maintaining access to the residences along Highway 1. Caltrans must also work to minimize the impacts of the project on environmental resources in the project area, including, but not limited to: coastal wetlands, the Scotty Creek floodplain, water quality, federally listed threatened and endangered species, (including the Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly of which only four known populations remain in California), and the rural character of the coastal Sonoma landscape.

The proposed project will include the fill and subsequent impact of coastal wetlands and will impact the Scotty Creek floodplain. However, the project is expected to improve the environmental baseline of the Scotty Creek floodplain, because the bridge will span the floodplain and remove a double-box culvert that currently spans the creek but that poses a barrier to migrating salmonids. The project is being evaluated to determine if there are any practical alternatives to avoid impacting coastal wetlands or, if not, to ensure that all practical measures are taken to minimize harm to wetlands.