Sierra Club Calls Highway 140 Fix ‘Ridiculous’

In Environment, News, Travel

Merced Sun Star:

Fearing danger to motorists and damage to a scenic river canyon, some environmentalists say the state is moving too quickly to rebuild the western route into Yosemite National Park.

That’s a new twist in the story of a massive [rockslide] that shut down Highway 140 for months in 2006 and slowed hundreds of thousands of motorists in 2007 as they drove to Yosemite.

Until now, the loudest message in the region — mostly from business owners in [Mariposa] — was “hurry up and fix this.”

Their tourist-based economy has suffered, and their lives are bogged down in delay.

But several activist groups say the alternative could be worse.

They say there could be a disaster if officials rush a major construction project without fully studying the rockslide, which is still active and primed to drop more debris.

The rockslide could cascade enough rubble to dam the river, create a large lake and swamp a busy roadway.

The California Department of Transportation in November suggested a shortened study, called an environmental assessment, instead of an in-depth analysis of potential repairs.

“It’s ridiculous,” said George Whitmore, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Tehipite Chapter Yosemite Committee. “There are too many issues to rush it. We need a full study.”

Photo by TTVo.

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