Highway 1 gets renewed focus

Rockaway Quarry project is shedding extra light on the need to widen area roadway

PACIFICA — A longstanding proposal to widen a section of Highway 1 may soon gain additional attention this fall as the debate surrounding development in the Rockaway Quarry gathers steam.

City staff is currently gathering information on the options available to the city for the widening of Calera Parkway. Some suspect that the project, which has major obstacles such as wetlands and environmentally protected habitats hindering its progress, will get more attention as Nov. 7 approaches.

“My hunch is that because of the interest in developing the quarry, this will be a hot topic,” said Mayor Sue Digre.

Pacifica’s Measure L would allow up to 355 housing units to be developed in Rockaway Quarry as part of developer R. Don Peebles’ mixed-use development proposal for the 88-acre site. Peebles and former Pacifica Mayor Peter Loeb have already debated the topic in front of a standing-room only crowd exemplifying the public’s interest in the site.

Digre said that the traffic implications of the quarry project and its proposed expanded development would link the two proposals during the debate.

Traffic has increased again on Calera Parkway, the section of Highway 1 between Reina Del Mar Avenue and Fassler Avenue, since the reopening of Devil’s Slide. Council Member Jim Vreeland called the widening project a regional issue.

“We need to really work with Caltrans and others to make the case that it’s a regional problem,” he said.

Twenty-five years ago, he said, widening the Calera Parkway was the only main transportation project for Pacifica and the city has $14 million in Prop. A money set aside for the problem.

Also linking the two proposals are the environmental considerations. If the parkway was widened, said Chris Kern, the manager of the North Central Coast District for the California Coastal Commission, wetlands would be filled and protected habitat for the California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake would be damaged.

“Those two issues in particular have been difficult for the previous projects to really deal with,” Kern said, adding that those issues would also be “really critical” for any development in the quarry.

dsmith@examiner.com

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