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Deadly stretch of Highway 36 gets long-awaited improvements

"We tried to have guard rails to put it up, Caltrans said they couldn't get it done ... They said we'd never be able to do anything of this magnitude, so we just lived with it for all this time," said Jones.

Posted: Nov. 29, 2017 5:44 PM

"There were a few every years, pretty serious ones, some of them were, a lot of fatalities there too," said Al Blomquist, the community of Mineral's fire chief.

For decades, a 3 mile long stretch of Highway 36, West of Mineral has been a literal death trap, with up to three times more accidents than other mountain roads in the area.

"There were some that went all the way down, trying to bring them up was pretty tough," said Blomquist.

More than a thousand people travel the highway every day, including Steve Jones, who's company, Mt. Lassen Motor Transit Inc., delivers mail and shuttles tours from the North Valley to Chester.

"We tried to have guard rails to put it up, Caltrans said they couldn't get it done ... They said we'd never be able to do anything of this magnitude, so we just lived with it for all this time," said Jones.

Once the state funding finally came through, it took a lot of time to plan out, and 4 years to finally break ground.

"We had to hammer through mountains of solid rock, very steep topography; many people couldn't walk on some areas let alone get equipment on it!" said Henry Benner, Caltrans Resident Engineer.

Workers removed 200,000 cubic yards of rock from the hillside to expand the lanes and add shoulders in some areas.

"That way Caltrans vehicles can plow snow, if a vehicle broke down they could safely pull off," said Benner.

And of course, canyon sides as high as 200 feet high were filled in to make the road a lot less windy.

"The intent is to reduce the frequency and severity of vehicle accidents," said Benner.

"I just hope people don't drive too fast with it being straightened out - you still gotta slow down when it gets icy and snows," said Blomquist.

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