Caltrans Asks, What’s the Best Mix for Hwy 36?

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State Route 36 spans 249 miles from the redwood trees of Humboldt County to Lassen County’s high desert. The extraordinarily scenic, mostly two-lane highway covers some of the most remote territory in all of California. It also serves figuratively and literally as Main Street in Red Bluff, Chester and Susanville.

Now, Caltrans planners are putting together a 20-year concept plan for State Route 36, and they want to know what you think. Do you know of safety hazards that should be addressed? Where would you like to see passing lanes or turn pockets? How could the highway be better in towns?

Caltrans has scheduled a public workshop on Highway 36 at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 21, in the Red Bluff Community/Senior Center, 1500 South Jackson Street, Red Bluff. Agency planners will provide a brief presentation of a transportation concept report for the highway, and will then open up the forum to public input.

“Things that typically come up,” said Caltrans Project Manager Laura Rose, “are, ‘Are the shoulders satisfactory? Are we meeting the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in the community? What about right turn lanes that have developed?’”

Caltrans engaged numerous public agencies that monitor and use the highway a great deal, including the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service and CalFire. Still, said Rose, “It’s an open table right now. We want to identify problem areas.”

The highway runs through Red Bluff on North Main Street and Antelope Boulevard. Cities can clash with Caltrans when state-controlled highways serve as urban streets. Caltrans often is focused on accommodating through traffic, while the city wants to create a multi-functional street that meets the needs of merchants, shoppers and residents. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in Red Bluff, where city planners are more concerned about providing adequate traffic circulation in new growth areas near Wilcox Oaks Golf Course in the north end of town, and near Red Bluff Municipal Airport at the south end.

Downtown Red Bluff
Downtown Red Bluff

Red Bluff Planning Director Scot Timboe said the city’s primary concerns with Highway 36 are capacity and ensuring Main and Antelope do not get overly congested.

“Caltrans probably has the same vision for Antelope and Main Street as the city does, as least for a 20-year horizon,” Timboe said.

Do you have the same vision? Or would like to see Main and especially Antelope become a lot friendlier toward pedestrians and bicyclists? Maybe slow the cars a few miles per hour? How about more landscaping? Or do you just want to drive through town as fast as possible? Wednesday evening is your opportunity to speak up.

Although the Highway 36 concept plan is a long-term planning document that is not necessarily intended to be project-specific, the plan will serve a basis for determining which projects to pursue in the future, Rose explained.

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Whiskeytown National Recreation Area welcomes a new “artist is residence” today. Patricia Cummins, of Miami, Florida, will be painting in plein air at Whiskeytown through August 6.

Patricia Cummins

• Best wishes to John Stokes, who retired last week after six years as Anderson’s director of development services and 30 years of public service. Prior to joining the City of Anderson staff, Stokes worked for Shasta County for 14 years, and, before that, as a planner in Tulare and El Dorado counties. I bet you’ll see John and his wife, Debbie, a newly retired teacher, at even more community events in the near future.

• Is Tehama County the new center of alternative lifestyle festivals? In late May, the World Hemp Expo Extravaganja attracted hundred of people over three days to a field south of Red Bluff. Now comes the Mystic Garden Party, scheduled July 21 through 25 near Flournoy, roughly 10 miles west of Corning. While the hemp expo was a fairly low key affair, the Mystic Garden Party has $150 tickets and big name music acts that include Michael Franti & Spearhead, Brett Dennan and Steve Kimock. Break out the tie die and incense.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and loves to drive Highway 36 from Red Bluff to Lake Almanor. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

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has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Red Bluffian says:

    Where was the photo taken in Red Bluff? Our downtown doesn't look like that…

    • Avatar Paul Shigley says:

      The photo, courtesy of Caltrans, is of the intersection of Antelope Boulevard and Main Street. It appears the photo was shot from the sidewalk on the south side of Antelope, looking west.

    • Avatar Red Bluffian says:

      Yes, I saw the spot when I came up that direction today. Across the street from the building with ANTIQUES on it is our historic State Theatre, which the photo does not show. The section of Main Street to the left of the stop light is more 'downtown' than this, and prettier. Thanks for clarifying.

  2. Avatar JeffG says:

    Leave it alone. Highway 36 is famous for being highway 36… No need to straighten it to oblivion like 299…