How social media saved our skins during winter storms.
By Chris Finnie
Throughout this year’s winter storms, websites and social media have played a big part in keeping mountain residents informed about what roads were open. During the height of the onslaught, the ever-changing road conditions meant that people made it to work, school, and a variety of appointments—only to find the route they’d taken out of the Valley was no longer open for the trip back.
As a bit of dark humor, I characterized the ongoing exchange of information as the latest mountain “hobby.”
In truth, I was impressed by how people shared their “secret” routes over the hill and up-to-the-minute information about their own experiences to help out neighbors. It wasn’t unusual to see a post that said something like, “My husband says traffic is at a standstill on Highway 17 and wonders if any other routes are currently open. Otherwise he figures it would be faster to turn around and go back to work.”
Another person posted this re-route to get from San Jose to Boulder Creek: “From Saratoga take 9 to 35, turn right on 35 going to Skylonda, turn left on 84 and go to Hwy 1, turn left and go to Bonny Doon Rd (don’t go to nude beach just now), turn right and go up to Felton Empire Grade, turn left and go to Jamison Creek Rd, turn right and go down to 236, turn right and barrel on in to Boulder Creek! I estimate about 90 miles and 2 – 2 1/2 hrs.” And of course half these roads would be closed the next day.
While I hope some of the original posts and replies that were obviously from smartphones were either from passengers, or people who were actually not driving, it was pretty amazing to see all the real-time posts.
There is still a lot of serious damage on local roads. Fixing it is going to be expensive and slow. Some of the repairs may close roads again. So it’s worth a recap of some of the online resources to track closures.
Road Information Sites
- Santa Cruz County Public Works: www.sccroadclosure.org/
- California Highway Patrol: https://cad.chp.ca.gov/Traffic.aspx
- Caltrans: www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/
- Santa Cruz travel information: www.cruz511.org
- Neighborhood social network Nextdoor (free membership required): www.nextdoor.com
- Local Conditions.com: www.localconditions.com/weather-boulder-creek-california/95006/traffic.php
- The Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SantaCruzMountainBulletin/
- Ben Lomond Mountain Roads (free membership required): www.facebook.com/groups/1006808366001838/
- Boulder Creek Neighbors (free membership required): www.facebook.com/groups/bouldercreekneighbors/
- Highway 17 Commuters: www.facebook.com/groups/1820558984860683/
Help Inventory Repair Needs
In addition, supervisor McPherson has asked for public help to inventory potholes that need attention. To make a report, use the Citizen Connect mobile app through Santa Cruz County, or the Public Works Department webpage: www.dpw.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/ReportProblem.aspx