Posted: February 6th, 2012 9:29am
$2.5 million to upgrade Highway 101 around Smith River
The main transportation artery of the North Coast is getting some safety improvements thanks to the United States Department of Transportation.
Today, Congressional Representative Mike Thompson (Dem. – St. Helena) announced the awarding of a $2.5 million grant through the DOTs Tiger III program to the Smith River Rancheria of Del Norte County. These funds will be used to make roadway safety improvements along Highway 101.
“This grant will improve our road safety and strengthen our economy by putting people back to work renovating out-of-date infrastructure,” Thomp-son stated in a release. “Anyone who has driven along Highway 101 through the Rancheria knows these improvements are long overdue, and I will keep fighting for these smart investments that rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, create jobs, and most important, keeps people safe.”
According to Thompson’s Communications Director, Austin Vevurka, these upgrades will reduce traffic-related injuries by improving walking and bi-cycling safety along 1.3 miles of the highway within the ancestral lands of the Smith River Rancheria; these will include stamped shoulder treat-ments, new signage and lighting to promote traffic calming.
“We are so happy and excited about this announcement,” Smith River tribal chair Kara Brundin-Miller stat-ed. “We view the tribe as a key part of this community and we believe this grant will help make this high-way safer for everyone. We express our thanks to Congressman Thompson for his tireless efforts on behalf of this project.”
This project was the fruit of a year-long regional planning process between the tribe, the Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans and the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission — the first of its kind between a Native American tribe with DOT.
Construction is expected to commence in the coming months, as funding has already started to be dis-pensed to the Rancheria by Caltrans.
The Smith River Rancheria, one of the homes of the Tolowa Tribe, was originally established in 1908, and has grown to more than 500 acres in territory. Many of its 1,200 members live in southern Oregon and northern California, and the section of Highway 101 to be improved runs through the heart of the Ranche-ria, in close proximity to the tribe’s medical clinic, Head Start facility, cultural center and other heavily visit-ed areas. The grant makers hope these highway improvements will increase economic opportunity in the region.