Scenic Bridge Railings
Latest Developments in the Battle to Preserve Scenic Coastal Vistas
A primary purpose of this site is to inform the public
that a highly scenic bridge railing has been approved for use in California.
[Update: a second scenic railing has now been approved: a combination
vehicle-bicycle rail that is visually transparent, aesthetically pleasing,
and only 42" high.]
This site also reports on current and past efforts to oppose Caltrans projects that would obscure and otherwise harm scenic values.
We hope to provide information and examples that will help citizens to preserve scenic values that are threatened by Caltrans projects.
A final goal is to document the public process that led to Caltrans' approval of a highly scenic railing.
I took it upon myself to represent those who wanted a more aesthetic bridge and railing. I participated in almost every forum in which the issues were debated and where permits were issued.
This website provides a history of a victory for coastal preservation and for aesthetics over expediency and economy. It tells the story of how one individual prevailed over the largest, most powerful government agency in California.
My hope is that the information presented here will:
The complete story is in the Annotated History, which traces the history of the project from first public release to completion. Links in the History connect to documents, correspondence and photos. Together, these provide detailed documentation of the conflicts, positions, and roles of the major participants, with emphasis on my interaction with Caltrans and the Coastal Commission.
This website provides periodic reports on continuing efforts to ensure that bridge views are preserved and bridges on scenic Highway 1 are kept in scale with the rural, two-lane road.
The Cal-Transmogrification of Scenic Bridge Railings (PDF) presents a historic overview of the deterioration of scenic railings in California, in the context of the Noyo Bridge Railing battle.
See the author's other major public service endeavor,
The Noyo Bridge and scenic rail efforts were a project of the Dharma Cloud Foundation
Ten Mile Bridge Opens
On Friday, May 8, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. the official opening of the new Ten Mile Bridge was celebrated.
The final outcome can justly be celebrated as a symbol of what community action, the Coastal Commission, and Caltrans working together can achieve.
As a result of community opposition to the initial design, Caltrans worked with the community and the Coastal Commission to come up with a design that was smaller, better aligned, incorporated a pedestrian walkway, and a newly designed railing that preserved scenic views and is aesthetically pleasing.
Revised Plan for the Greenwood Bridge
Spring 2009. Caltrans earlier (in 2005) proposed a major replacement project for the existing bridge in the small coastal town of Elk. Strong opposition from the community and the Coastal Commissions staff caused it to withdraw it plans in 2006.
It is now proposed a revised plan that will replace the existing bridge one lane at a time, rather than building an entirely new bridge on a new alignment, as originally proposed. The new bridge appears well suited to its setting and has been well received by the community.
The railings to be used on the bridge are still being discussed. My hope is that a suitable version of the railings used on Ten Mile bridge will be used on the Greenwood Bridge. .
Noyo Bridge Showcases New Scenic Railing
August, 2005. The new Noyo Bridge spanning the Noyo River in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County, California is complete. Everyone is delighted with the sweeping vistas from the new bridge and the elegance and aesthetics of the railings. The route to this outcome was not easy nor quick.
The bridge immediately became embroiled in controversy when first proposed by Caltrans in 1998. The existing bridge was an unusual iron-girder, two-lane bridge much loved by many in the community. It provided sweeping views of the coastal bluffs and ocean on one side and intimate views down into a working fishing harbor on the other.
The proposed bridge was a standard freeway-overpass, concrete box-girder design of immense width (wider than the Golden Gate Bridge), with solid concrete "railings" that would prevent all views of the ocean and harbor.
On the one side were local citizens who felt that Caltrans should come up with an architecturally more distinctive design, a narrower bridge, and with railings that preserved the view. On the other side were others who wanted a new four-lane bridge and the economic benefits the construction would bring, and cared not at all about the aesthetics.
The ensuing battle over the bridge and railing design went on for 2-1/2 years, and involved Caltrans, the Fort Bragg Planning Commission and City Council, the Coastal Commission, the California Transportation Commission, and numerous citizens of Mendocino County.
The final result is a testimony to the public benefit of having major government projects subject to multiple levels of review with public participation. Although the bridge width was not reduced, the overall aesthetics were greatly improved, and a truly good scenic railing has now been approved for use throughout California.
The Coastal Commission intends to require use of the new steel traffic barrier on all new bridges in the Coastal Zone. Citizens everywhere in California can ask Caltrans to use the new scenic railing wherever scenic views need to be preserved.
Widening, New Railings and Walkways
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Copyright Vince Taylor, 1999-2006. Photos by Vince Taylor
unless otherwise credited.
Right to for non-commercial use is hereby granted, conditional upon granting of credit and referencing of the website.