After two years and two months, Pilgrim Creek Road off Highway 89 just east of McCloud, is finally opened again to public traffic.
Pilgrim Creek Road is the primary access road for the residents that live in the Mount Shasta Forest Property Owner Association (MSFPOA) subdivision which contains about 792 lots. There are about 100 full-time and 400 part-time residents, but also loggers and other commercial vehicles that have relied on this paved road yet had to use alternates and less accessible unpaved roads like Esperanza Road which is a dirt road as an alternative during the closure. With the increase in traffic and speed of vehicles using Esperanza, the road quickly deteriorates with washboards and potholes. And what took just 8 minutes from the subdivision to drive to McCloud took 30 minutes by way of Esperanza. Logging trucks would have to use other roads such as Harris Springs Road due to the dust abatement or pay for permits to offset the impacts of the deterioration the heavier traffic causes.
The US Forest Service has added more gravel and has been rolling, packing, and watering Esperanza Road with short-lived results due to the traffic and speed regardless of mounted signs to limit vehicle speed.
The sign that usually stands 5 feet above the pavement is bearly a foot above the mud as it flows across Pilgrim Creek Road last year.
According to US Forest Service Regional Ranger Carolyn Napper, a team of hydrologists, geologists, and geotechnical engineers have been evaluating the conditions along and above Pilgrim Creek Road with all the mud and silt debris from the mudslides of 2021 and 2022 that have covered Pilgrim Creek Road (as much as 8 feet). They have reasoned that the correlation between the deposit during drought and wet times of the year with fewer deposits in the upper Mud Creek regions makes it less of a risk at this time to reopen Pilgrim Creek Road. Gates have been installed to close the road again if the channel moves or more material comes down Mud Creek again.
same spot taken in March 2022
Suzanne Mattson stands along the dried mud covering Pilgrim Creek Road on September 27, 2022.
Rocks and debris that were washed over Pilgrim Creek Road along the open field on September 27, 2022
Napper also states that they put in a request to pave Esperanza Road using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Bill from Congress. The project will cost an estimated $3 million and will start in the year 2025.
Many of the people who live in the subdivision have had more to deal with than just a longer time to commute. This summer since the resurfacing of Esperanza, there have been up-to-date 100 flat tires reported. Many from the rocks embedded into the tires but also from nails. Many of the residents have written letters to Congressman Doug LaMalfa who is the representative of this area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Uri Driscoll who is the 2nd vice of the MSFPOA says, “We are very fortunate that lives weren’t lost through these last two years. It is brutal pulling a trailer up Esperanza. Many have had flat tires on this road. I am glad that the Forest Service saw the importance and the awareness of having Pilgrim Creek as the property owners’ primary access.”
Todd Wiedner Trucking was one of the first vehicles to use Pilgrim Creek Road after being closed for over 2 years.
Todd Wiedner of Todd Wiedner Trucking was one of the first commercial vehicles to use Pilgrim Creek Road on Thursday, September 14th when the gates were opened and blockades removed.
He says, “It cuts time by 30 to 45 minutes, and fuel costs using Pilgrim Creek Road.
Jeff Shamansky and Hannah Link both live in the subdivision and drive their children to school in McCloud every day. They both confirm that it is so much safer to use the paved road. Link says that she has had 3 flat tires from rocks driving on Esperanza Road.
Marianne Locke who also lives in the subdivision says, “With the limited access out of the forest, it would have been like Paradise of Maui if there was a fire or a medical emergency or even the weather can make it a nightmare.”
There are still many dead trees and large mounds of silt piled along Pilgrim Creek Road that will have to be removed.
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