Chip Seal on Highway 1

The placement of chip seal on Highway 1 North of Cambria is a fine example of the unwillingness or inability of car-centric engineers to consider all forms of transportation when designing and repairing our highways. It's all about the car...except this time the weak minds responsible for the destruction of an iconic cycling route are getting a well deserved ear full from cyclists. 

In a previous post from last Tuesday (Central Coast Chip Seal) I discovered the unforgiving stuff. I'm optimistic that by this time next year the situation will be resolved and once again I can look forward to the pleasure of riding the Central Coast. 

Here's some more information and links:

Information from the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club
Caltrans, in almost every respect a good friend to SLO county bicyclists, made a horrible mistake last October when they chip sealed 25 miles of Highway 1 from Cambria to the Monterey County line at a taxpayer cost of $2 million.
They have acknowledged their mistake and are making small efforts to mitigate the horrible effects of their project on cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. They refuse to consider the most effective remediation, which is to spend $7 million to lay down a pavement overlay, which would give the highway section at least 25 more years of useful life before needing another rejuvenation.
We have their attention. We need to give them the will to spend $7 million dollars to fix it right.
I urge everyone to express your opinion about the Highway 1 chip seal to people who might help us. Below are some email addresses. Some things to write about are:
  • What is the economic impact on Central Coast communities if bicycle tourism falls off?
  • Highway 1 is an All American Road, one of 31 in the country, and a destination in itself.
  • The California legislature designated Highway 1 as "an official state bicycle route" because it is "The most popular long distance bicycle touring route in California."
  • Local and national charities use it as an attraction that draws thousands of cyclists to events that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Bicycle touring companies use this route as a mainstay in their tour offerings.
  • Caltrans Information Officer Jim Shivers wrote, "because the binding agents used in this type of work are an evolving technology, so we are short on written specifics for now" – in other words, this job was an experiment with no written specifications for type and size of rock chips to be used.
  • Continued daily sweeping of the project is removing the rock chips that Caltrans put in place – what will be left when they are done?
  • Three major tourist attractions are in the middle of this project – Hearst Castle, Piedras Blancas Light Station and the elephant seals viewing area.
  • Caltrans spent $2 million on this project and does not want to spend $7 million to repair it and do it right – how much do they spend every time a rockslide closes Highway 1 in Big Sur?
  • More than 1,000 people, so far, have signed a petition asking Caltrans to fix the problem
  • The project violates Caltrans' own Directive DD-64 that states "The Department views all transportation improvements as opportunities to improve safety, access, and mobility for all travelers in California and recognizes bicycle, pedestrian, and transit modes as integral elements of the transportation system."
  • DD-64 also directs the Department to "Ensure bicycle, pedestrian, and transit user needs are addressed and deficiencies identified during system and corridor planning, project initiation, scoping, and programming."

Adventure Cycling Bad Chip Seal on a Iconic Route
Petition Restore Highway 1
The Cambrian Cyclists; Hwy 1 North of Cambria to Rough to Ride
The Cambrian Caltrans Working on Plans to Smooth Stretch of Highway 1
Caltrans News Release Test Rolling Highway 1 Shoulder Begins
Chip Seal What is Chip Seal?

Read more here:


  1. Mark! I can't believe--oh, yes I can--that the bastards chip sealed Hwy 1. Jodi, Django and I battled so many nasty sections of that on our Rocky Mtn. tour. Thanks for this post. I signed the petition. Bastards....

    1. I remember reading your thoughts on the subject but I have never truly experienced the nasty stuff in all it's glory.


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