2017 Excellence Award Recipients


Heather Lanier and Carissa Chapellet,

Big Sur Bypass Trail Project

In February 2017, roads and bridges in communities throughout Monterey County were devastated by a series of winter storms. The Big Sur community was one of the most severely impacted with the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge being structurally compromised, necessitating an immediate closure, and eventual demolition. Making the situation even more dire in Big Sur, were mudslides further south on the coast, creating an enclave of approximately 450 people who found themselves completely isolated on “the Big Sur Island.”  People could not get to work. Children could not get to school.  Families were separated. Faced with the reality that it would be months before they could drive north along HWY1, Big Sur residents began calling for an immediate solution – the opening of an emergency trail which would bypass the closure of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge.

Although State Parks, the California Conservation Corps, and other partners such as State Senator Bill Monning and Big Sur Fire, were indispensable partners in this project, it was the volunteer effort initiated by Heather Lanier and Carissa Chappellet (cousins) that ultimately decreased the time this project took and allowed for the entire project’s completion in only 10 days. The result was a trail that was about a mile long that gained about 500 feet of elevation in the second half and included approximately 150 steps.

Under normal circumstances, this project would have taken a few years to develop and implement, however it was completed in a phenomenally short period of time due to the commitment and organization of the Big Sur volunteer community. Heather Lanier and Carissa Chappellet were indispensable to the project’s success. Because of their leadership, the community was reunited, families could bring in the groceries and supplies they needed to live, workers could go to and from work, and children returned to school.

John Viarengo, Salinas Traffic & Transportation Commission

John Viarengo has served on the Salinas Traffic and Transportation Commission, and as such, he as participated in many Salinas projects, including the revisions of the Salinas General Plan, the Alisal Street Roundabout Project; and parking and traffic issues throughout the city. Through his service, he has contributed to making Salinas a better place with better flowing traffic and safer streets.

John is also recognized for his volunteer service with the Salinas Police Department. For the past 17 years, he has been a volunteer in the department’s vehicle maintenance division.  This retired former auto shop teacher from the Salinas Union High School District and lifelong car enthusiast, spends two days of the week, providing routine checkups, minor auto repairs, road tests and even will drive cars to repair centers for major auto repairs.


MST Reduced Pricing Bus Passes, Monterey-Salinas Transit

Prior to the construction of the Holman Highway 68 Roundabout Project, MST was asked by the local hospitality community to assist with the congestion that was expected during the construction by encouraging people who travel through the intersection, or along the Del Monte/Lighthouse corridor in New Monterey, to utilize MST.

The MST Board of Directors approved a deeply-discounted bus pass for residents and employees of the following affected areas: Big Sur, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. MST’s 31-Day Basic bus pass was discounted from $95 per month to $13 and for seniors, youth, people with disabilities and veterans from $47 per month to $6.50 per month.

The reduced-price bus passes were available from August 15, 2016 through June 30, 2107. Overall, bus pass sales more than doubled and MST saved the community nearly $800,000 in commute costs over the 10-month construction period.

Walk and Bike Safe in Monterey Program, City of Monterey

The City of Monterey – Traffic Engineering applied for and successfully earned two highly competitive grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety in the amount of $110,000 in November 2015 and $74,000 in October 2016. The first grant funded a one-year Program Coordinator position responsible for establishing a comprehensive bike and pedestrian safety public education program to reduce bicycle and pedestrian collisions. The grant funded Program Coordinator launched “Walk & Bike Safety in Monterey,” an interactive public education program focusing on educating children and seniors as safe pedestrians and bicyclists.

Bike and Pedestrian safety audits were also conducted at 10 schools and surveys were developed to evaluate the program and to develop three, age-appropriate in-class PowerPoint presentations. The presentations included safety videos created by the city, live demos and quizzes for children to learn and practice simultaneously. These presentations were complemented with hands-on activities including bike rodeos and a “pedestrian rodeo, PSA videos, educational brochures and activities. Overall, the program successfully reached over 3,000 children who learned to stop, look, and listen before crossing the street.

Holman Highway 68 Roundabout Project, Caltrans and the City of Monterey

Extensive traffic delays were too common along Holman Highway, one of the Monterey Peninsula’s main transportation corridors. The busy signalized intersection joining the Highway 1 on and off-ramps to Highway 68 and the famous 17 Mile Drive caused commuter frustration, increased air pollution, restricted access to the local hospital and compelled impatient drivers to invent detours through adjacent residential neighborhoods.

The Holman Highway 68 Project, led by the City of Monterey implemented a muti-lane, sustainable, low-maintenance, user-friendly roundabout to relieve congestion at this important and busy intersection that is one of two vital gateways to the Monterey Peninsula. Keeping this critical arterial open throughout construction was crucial, and there was also a need for extensive public and stakeholder education and outreach concerning the roundabout.

In the end, this public-private partnership was a successful collaboration between the City of Monterey, Pebble Beach Company, Monterey Bay Regional Air District, County of Monterey, City of Pacific Grove, Caltrans and other community partnerships with CHOMP, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, MST, the Unitarian Church. It has improved the lives of those who travel through the intersection to get to work, home, school, the hospital, or to enjoy the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.

Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, Caltrans

Highway 1 in Big Sur is a designated American National Scenic Byway. Road designated within the America’s Byways program are unique. However, Highway 1 through Big Sur is considered one of the crown jewels on the byways program. Views from the highway provide amazing visual experiences and that is why it is major destination for national and international tourism. Numerous businesses depend on this tourism for their success. Highway 1 is also the only major road connection for hundreds of residents that call Big Sur home.

A landslide, due to heavy rains which began in early January 2017 caused major damage to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1 in Monterey County. By February 15, the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which was built in 1968, was determined to be beyond repair and needed to be replace.

As this slide would cause a humanitarian and economic crisis for businesses and residents of the Big Sur coast, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) immediately jumped into action to replace the bridge as quickly as possible. Remarkably, the new $24,000,000 single-span steel girder bridge was built and opened to the public just eight months after the original concrete structure was condemned, a process that would normally take about 8 years.

Elkhorn Road Emergency Storm Damage Repair, County of Monterey

Winter storms battered the Central Coast in January and February of 2017. The damage was so great in northern California that FEMA declared the area a Major Disaster to provide federal funding to help communities recover from the severe winter storms, flooding and mudslides.

As this section of roadway serves as a critical roadway for emergency responders, as well as being the first road inland from Highway 1 that runs parallel to Highway 1, repairing and re-opening it quickly was a priority.  However, the damage was so severe and continued to worsen with continued storms, it was necessary to keep the roadway closed for the public’s safety until necessary repairs could be made to stabilize the site.

The County put together an emergency team that determined that it was best to wait for a clear weather pattern prior to the mobilization of the emergency construction crews. This quick and focused action of the County of Monterey and the Elkhorn Road Emergency Repair team resulted in the $1 million emergency roadway work being successfully completed; thereby re-opening a safe and critical access route for the community and emergency responders.

Ariana Green, 5 Years of Service

Ariana Green is recognized for 5 years of dedicated service and congratulated for reaching this significant milestone in her career with the Transportation Agency for Monterey County.  Her effort and dedication plays a tremendous part in the success of the Agency.

Maria Montiel, 10 Years of Service

Maria Montiel is recognized for 10 years of dedicated service and congratulated for reaching this significant milestone in her career with the Transportation Agency for Monterey County.  Her effort and dedication plays a tremendous part in the success of the Agency.

Todd Muck, 10 Years of Service

Todd Muck is recognized for 10 years of dedicated service and congratulated for reaching this significant milestone in his career with the Transportation Agency for Monterey County.  His effort and dedication plays a tremendous part in the success of the Agency.

Theresa Wright is the Transportation Agency for Monterey County Transportation Excellence Awards Program contact person. If you have any questions, you can reach her at (831) 775-0903, or via email at: theresa@tamcmonterey.org