Lives have been saved on
Highway 94 because of two road projects which straightened out some of the
very severe curves on both ends of Potrero Valley.
The first project is
between Highway 188 turnoff and Potrero valley where the old road was
narrow and winding. It hugged
the mountain with a severe drop to the canyon on the north side of the
road. This was a double
“S” curve just before reaching Potrero Valley and was very dangerous. In 1961 this was straightened and widened, which made
it much safer.
At that time Caltrans
subcontracted the project under a “rental program”
with Bob Harris of Potrero. This
means Bob worked on this project using his own equipment. Bennie Patterson was the foreman and some of the local people
who worked this project were Bill Patterson, Leo Cline (resident
engineer), Joe McGuffie, Gene Garying and others.
Bob Harris says it took about 3 months to do the work. They had to blast rocks, move lots of dirt for fill before
resurfacing the road. Basically,
they followed the old road but straightened it out by blasting the rocks
on one side and filling in the narrow curves by the canyons. One curve can still be seen where they blasted through the
hill to straighten the road. They
did an amazing job with the equipment they had.
The second project is
east of Potrero between the Potrero Store and the top of the hill, located
0.5 mile to 1.4 miles east of Potrero Valley Road.
Here again this road was
narrow with steep curves up
against the mountain. There
were many rock and mud slides along this stretch of road and
Frank Thing (long time resident) said he remembered a rock slide
the winter of 1940/41 during a heavy rain that closed the road for several
days. Rocks were
always sliding down the hill even during a slight rain and with the narrow
twisting road it became very dangerous. This project was to realign curves
and widen the narrow roadway at an estimated cost of $560,000. This
project was approved in 1984 and completed
about 1986. Now we
have a wider road with pullout areas in case of emergency.
These projects over the
years have saved lives. We
must continue these safety projects to accommodate the changes in our