As California enters what looks to be an exceedingly hot, dry summer setting the stage for wildfire, fire crews will be working on improving a portion of Highway 35 in the coming months to reduce fuel and improve access for first responders.

PG&E last week granted $80,000 to Fire Safe San Mateo County and Woodside Fire Protection District to improve an evacuation route along a three-mile stretch of Skyline Boulevard between Highway 84 and Old La Honda Road. This will be a significant undertaking for local agencies as there hasn’t been major work done on the road in the past 10 to 15 years, said Denise Enea, the president of Fire Safe San Mateo County.

The fire council and residents hope that the work will create a safe evacuation route, improve emergency access and reduce the chance of wildfires spreading across roads. The majority of the work, which will be done by contractors and the fire district crews, will go into removing underbrush and invasive plant species along the road, Enea said in an email to the Review. Crews will also trim or remove dead or diseased trees leaning over the road. Healthy and larger trees will be trimmed if necessary.

PG&E has donated $17 million in grant funding to local fire safe councils since 2014, according to its website. It plans to grant $2 million for projects this year. Enea, a retired fire marshal from the Woodside Fire Protection

District, said she lobbies PG&E frequently to collaborate on hazardous fuel reduction projects. While PG&E does have a vegetation maintenance program, it’s designated for areas near the company’s powerlines and transformers.

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