As Highway 1 frustration hits its peak, Caltrans is getting an earful from folks complaining about congestion in the Big Sur area.
Residents say there are too many cars in certain areas of Highway 1, especially Bixby Bridge. The crowds are creating massive backups and leaving their garbage behind.
“One of the problems is there’s no (bathroom) facilities. You go down there, it’s 25 miles going down,” said one Monterey County resident.
Traffic congestion, road blocking, pedestrians crossing, selfie-taking and illegal parking are among the issues.
“So what our plan is attempting to do is to use some TDM principles and to see if there’s opportunities to encourage fewer people to be in their cars to take this trip,” said John Olejnik, the senior transportation planner at Caltrans District 5.
Caltrans is rolling out what is called a Sustainable Transportation Demand Management Plan, which aims to get people out of their single cars and onto buses, shuttles and even bikes.
One of the things Caltrans is considering is providing shuttle services to high demand locations like Bixby Bridge, a solution that may help ease traffic congestion, especially for day trip travelers.
“About 70 percent of the people do it drive to a certain point and they turn around and they come back,” said Olejnik. “That’s a perfect opportunity to find some people to give them other mode choices.”
These are not going to be requirement for visitors to follow, but they will potentially have these services and ideas marketed to the public.
In terms of parking meters, there are already a few at day-use facilities. But when it comes to installing them at popular locations, some are not too keen on it fixing the problems.
“Paid parking potentially could be that. But infrastructure and the ability to collect parking fees creates its own challenges,” said Kirk Gafill, the president of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce.
Caltrans says there are no plans to expand Highway 1 at this point.