The city of Half Moon Bay on Tuesday afternoon issued an extraordinary release in the wake of a March 12 traffic nightmare caused by a power outage and poor planning. The city says, “It's clear that improved coordination and communication within and among Caltrans, the CHP and PG&E is needed to ensure this type of situation does not recur.”

The coast was locked in a traffic meltdown that night when power was cut to the tunnels. That power is necessary to run enormous fans that make the spans safe for travel, according to the state transportation agency. That problem lasted for hours and was exacerbated by Caltrans’ failure to stop routine tree-trimming work on Highway 92 that evening.

Commuters reported that a trip that usually took 30 minutes took more than three hours.

The release seems to blame Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and PG&E for not communicating during the delay.

“We wanted to let our community know that the city of Half Moon Bay is working with those agencies to take the necessary steps to ensure an appropriate level of coordination and communication in the future related to issues involving Highways 1 and 92,” the release states. “We have been in touch with staff from each of the agencies to express our concerns.

“Caltrans has stated publicly that it intends to examine these circumstances, review its operational procedures, and determine how best to proceed in the future. The city fully supports and encourages Caltrans and the other agencies involved to do the same.

The city is working with the various agencies, along with San Mateo County, to determine how best to improve communications protocols to prevent unwarranted situations like this from happening again,” the release states.

(10) comments


It is a well know fact that Cal-Trans doesn't respond to the County, Sheriff or local government including HMB and Midcoast councils let alone the community. They are know as the black hole. If we want any traction we have to contact Senator Hill or Assembly member Mullins and even then..... seems our local Cal Trans representative is put in place to deflect questions or simply provide PR for Cal Trans. Until the upper management or directors are removed Cal Trans will continue to operate as they do with incompetence and a lack of concern with safety or concerns of the public.


At the end of the day, who's job is on the line when these major blunders happen? That's who we need to be putting the pressure onto. Do you really think CHP, Caltran workers, etc. care about you and I? They're more than happy just sitting around with their union protections and pensions. Decision makers, lawmakers, politicians, are who we should be holding accountable.


When it comes to "who to talk to", we get redirected based on whose jurisdiction a particular entity belongs to. I am surprised that city of HMB jumps out instead of the city of Pacifica, where the tunnel is adjacent to. Nonetheless, city of HMB is still encouraged to better handle community priorities. Coming back to jurisdiction, SR 1 and SR 92 belong to Caltrans and Caltrans is the one and only one to be blamed. It's Caltrans to coordinate emergency protocols and to communicate with law enforcement along with local officials. Again, Caltrans is like a hot traffic mess in LA. But this is only an one lane SR1 with a tunnel thousands rely on and paid dearly taxes for. State of California needs to launch an audit against Caltrans and legitimize many under-utilized positions out of dormancy.


If this doesn't warrant a formal investigation with individuals held accountable then I don't know what does. SMC grand jury seems exactly the right course, no?


Agree. This is long overdued for years.

Hmb T

For how many years have we requested the City put a message board down by Main and 92 so if there is an issue we would know early enough to take alternate route. This is not a new issue it's just one that keeps falling off the plate until something happens again.

Cid Young

I put a call into JEFF NORRIS, OES in REDWOOD CITY, never got a call back regarding this failure! Who is watching the Coast and NOT sending updates?

Cid Young

I was in that mess, and the failure of the SMC ALERT SYSTEM should not be overlooked. At 3:38 my phone received a text: HWY 1 is closed at Devil's Slide Tunnel Estimated reopening is 5:45 pm"
This info was not updated, and No Alerts went out about The Hwy 92 single lane traffic! On Sunday, 3/18/2019, with 3 Accidents on Hwy 1 in the evening , AGAIN, NO SMC ALERTS!


Sounds like SMC Alert is a joke and a waste of county tax money. Stop tossing coins at the parcel tax slot machines.


Indeed Cid! Those systems were put in place for emergencies of all kinds. The departments need to get buttoned up soon in preparation of accidents or problems with land slides, earth quakes, flooding or fires or power outages.

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