SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 998 by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, into law. This bill makes State Route 128 eligible to be designated as an official “Scenic Highway,” which will increase local economic activity in the North Bay and parts of Northern California, and bring newfound appreciation to the beauty of the route.
“I am ecstatic that the Governor recognizes the importance of this bill and what it means for the communities along Highway 128. This region has been impacted by natural disasters and wildfires, and they are working hard to rebuild and recover,” said Aguiar-Curry. “An official scenic highway designation will promote tourism to these areas and boost community pride.”
State Route 128 is roughly 140 miles long and runs through Yolo, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. The corridor is known for its picturesque beauty; passing through state and national parks, rich farmland, lush vineyards, and stately orchards, as well as notable sites like the Old Ornbaun Hot Springs, Putah Creek, and the Vaca Mountains. The “Visit 128” coalition has established a website dedicated to showcasing sites and activities along Highway 128.
California began its scenic highway program in 1963. To be chosen, a state highway must first be on a list of eligible roadways passed by the state Legislature. Napa County already has highways 29, 121 and 221 eligible, though none of them are designated.
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Being eligible isn’t enough. A local government such as Napa County must prepare a scenic highway proposal that includes a survey of the visual highlights. The proposals must be discussed at a public meeting.
Then the paperwork goes to Caltrans. Once Caltrans accepts the proposal, the local government creates a corridor protection program that details how the scenic views will be protected. Then Caltrans decides whether to designate or not.
AB 998 is coauthored by senators Dodd, D-Napa, and McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assemblymember Wood, D- Santa Rosa and will take effect on Jan. 1.