POTRERO ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

 

Lives have been saved on Highway 94 because of two road projects which straightened out some of the very severe curves on both ends of Potrero Valley.

The first project is between Highway 188 turnoff and Potrero valley where the old road was narrow and winding.  It hugged the mountain with a severe drop to the canyon on the north side of the road.  This was a double “S” curve just before reaching Potrero Valley and was very dangerous.   In 1961 this was straightened and widened, which made it much safer. 

At that time Caltrans subcontracted the project under a “rental program”  with Bob Harris of Potrero.  This means Bob worked on this project using his own equipment.  Bennie Patterson was the foreman and some of the local people who worked this project were Bill Patterson, Leo Cline (resident engineer), Joe McGuffie, Gene Garying and others.   Bob Harris says it took about 3 months to do the work.  They had to blast rocks, move lots of dirt for fill before resurfacing the road.  Basically, they followed the old road but straightened it out by blasting the rocks on one side and filling in the narrow curves by the canyons.  One curve can still be seen where they blasted through the hill to straighten the road.   They did an amazing job with the equipment they had.

The second project is east of Potrero between the Potrero Store and the top of the hill, located 0.5 mile to 1.4 miles east of Potrero Valley Road.  Here again this road  was narrow with steep  curves up against the mountain.  There were many rock and mud slides along this stretch of road and  Frank Thing (long time resident) said he remembered a rock slide the winter of 1940/41 during a heavy rain that closed the road for several days.    Rocks were always sliding down the hill even during a slight rain and with the narrow twisting road it became very dangerous. This project was to realign curves and widen the narrow roadway at an estimated cost of $560,000. This project was approved in 1984 and completed  about 1986.  Now we have a wider road with pullout areas in case of emergency. 

These projects over the years have saved lives.  We must continue these safety projects to accommodate the changes in our traffic.

 

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