Muir Woods neighbors frustrated with gridlock

MUIR WOODS, Calif. (KGO) -- In Marin County, a landslide and closure of Highway 1 may become the last straw in what had already been a congestion problem to Muir Woods National Monument. Now, there is only one effective way in and out and on weekends and holidays, it creates gridlock.

The back-up on the road to Muir Woods is legendary -- cars and buses jam it every day as people make their way to see the iconic redwoods.

Those living nearby have had enough. The road has needed repairs for years, and things have been made worse by the recent storms.

"It's a little frustrating," local resident Maurice Conti said.

"It's a beautiful place to get away from the city and be in nature," a visitor said.

Even the National Park Service agrees that the area's popularity has become a congestion problem.

"We really feel like we are too crowded," a ranger said.

Especially for local residents Conti. "They get almost a million tourists a year and there's a couple hundred of us. So it gets a little overwhelming," Conti said.

Now, even more so since a landslide closed Highway 1, leaving only two-lane Frank's Valley Road as the only other viable option.

It has issues, too.

One section has washed away to just one lane, leaving Muir Beach Fire Chief Steve Wynn to wonder why the county has left it this way for 10 years.

"It's very frustrating, for this road to have been like this for such a long time and especially at a crunch time when Highway 1 is out and this is our only way over the hill." Wynn said.

On Wednesday, the county said it is aware of the problem and has asked the sheriff for more parking enforcement along Frank's Valley Road.

But with Highway 1 gone, the chief wants more. Muir Woods congestion, he says, is a tragedy waiting to happen, especially if emergency crews cannot get through.

"The big concern for me is that fire department response from the county will take 45 minutes, at best, probably an hour to reach Muir Beach or Muir Woods. And then, if there is a heart attack, it will be too late," Wynn said.

And it will be just as deadly, even if it happens in this paradise of an urban escape.
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