Scenic Highway Committee for Hwy. 116, Jan. 2007

The below is a letter written to Assemblywoman Patty Berg concerning possible changes in 116’s Scenic Highway status. 



Scenic Highway Committee for Highway #116


P. O. Box 849     Guerneville, CA 95446

January 31, 2007

Assemblywoman Patty Berg
50 D Street, Suite 450
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Dear Assemblywoman Berg:

This letter represents a strong objection to the declassification of any section of State Highway 116 as a State Scenic Highway. 

The primary motivation for the discussion of declassification stems from increased truck traffic due to the expansion of Blue Rock and Canyon Rock Quarries in the town of Forestville. In the EIRs for the quarries, a mitigation measure in the form of a Forestville bypass is proposed, which will also benefit a subdivision development. 

It must be mentioned here that the dramatic increase in gravel mining operations adjacent to Green Valley Creek also causes great concern over the creek’s protection. In the entire Russian River watershed, Green Valley Creek is the last stream to carry all three genetic strains of coho salmon. Broodstock from the state Department of Fish & Game’s Warm Springs Dam Hatchery Coho Recovery Program comes from Green Valley Creek. 

The Forestville bypass may not be a bad thing and may be of benefit to the town of Forestville, but deleting or changing the State Scenic Highway status must not be done. We would like to provide for your review the following narrative of some of the history of the scenic highway status. I have also enclosed copies of the original Scenic Highway Report and of the original resolutions by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors as well as other documents supporting Scenic Highway status, including press material. 

In 1983 the California State Transportation Commission pursued removing 70 majestic redwood trees along Highway 116 between Guerneville and Monte Rio for the purpose of widening Highway 116 to accommodate highway expansion. At that time Caltrans had corresponded with Sonoma County Public Works Director Don Head regarding a proposal to do a right of way exchange. Caltrans would relinquish Highway 116 from Guerneville to Cotati in exchange for the right of way from Guerneville to Highway 101 (River Road). 

In order for this to occur the County required a new bridge at Guerneville. Caltrans proposed to remove the old Guerneville bridge and put up a 56'-wide box girder bridge in its place. This would have been the same width as the San Francisco Bay Bridge. They submitted a negative declaration, against which the “Bridge Club” filed suit in Superior Court and prevailed, demanding a full EIR. Caltrans agreed to alter the design, decreasing the bridge width to 42', more compatible with the Guerneville community. With the help of the California Preservation Foundation, we were successful in obtaining placement of the old bridge into the National Register of Historic Places.

Meanwhile Caltrans was still proposing to cut down 70 redwoods on the State right of way. Through aggressive community protests, including a protest by Greenpeace tree sitters which brought national attention, we were able to slow the process down. On May 12 and June 30, 1983, Assembly Bill No. 1026, authored by Dan Hauser, was passed by the State Assembly and Senate respectively. This bill added Highway 116, from Highway 101 near Cotati to Route 1 near Jenner, to the Master Plan of State Highways Eligible for Scenic Highway Designation. On August 16, 1983 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requesting the State Department of Transportation to conduct studies which led to eventual designation of the route as an official State Scenic Highway. AB No. 1026 was adopted by the California State Transportation Commission and signed by the Governor. “There has been substantial local citizen support and interest in adopting this roadway as a State Scenic Highway. This support was instrumental in getting AB No. 1026 adopted” (Final Report of Sonoma 116 Scenic Highway Corridor Study).

In conclusion, we ask for your support in maintaining continued State Scenic Highway status for Highway 116. We are vehemently opposed to any right of way exchange or any relinquishing of Scenic Highway status for Highway 116. We encourage the State to participate in construction of a bypass for the town of Forestville to accommodate industrial traffic, mandated in the EIR as mitigation for the expansion of Canyon Rock and Blue Rock mining operations. However, accomplishing this objective must be done without relinquishing any portion of the Scenic Highway status for Highway 116. 

Thank you for your attention.


Lenny Weinstein, Chair
Scenic Highway Committee for Highway 116

Darrell B. Sukovitzen, Vice Chair
Scenic Highway Committee for Highway 116

cc: Supervisor Valerie Brown
Supervisor Michael Kerns
Supervisor Tim Smith
Supervisor Paul Kelley
Supervisor Mike Reilly
State Senator Wes Chesbro
State Senator Pat Wiggins
Congesswoman Lynn Woolsey 
Mayor Sam Pierce, City of Sebastopol
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Transportation Commission 

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