In case of an emergency that requires the evacuation of Pacific Grove, there are only two ways out. On Saturday, emergency planners will test a third route through the normally closed Presidio of Monterey.
Monterey Fire Chief Gaudenz Panholzer looks at a map of the Monterey Peninsula. In the center is the Army’s Presidio of Monterey, home to the Defense Language Institute.
“It basically bisects the City of Monterey, and Pacific Grove is entirely on the other side of the Presidio,” says Panholzer.
Also cut off by the Presidio are parts of Pebble Beach. So, the only ways out for these communities are Lighthouse Avenue, Highway 68 and through the Presidio. But roads in the Presidio have been closed to the public since 2001.
“It's closed for safety of the people here, for the students here, because they are a critical national asset. So, we will make sure they stay safe when they do the nation's business. Anyone who comes on base is vetted and they have to have a legitimate purpose on base,” Garrison Commander Colonel Gregory Ford says.
However, Colonel Ford says the Presidio is always ready to open in case of an emergency. One route through will be tested this Saturday; the public is invited to drive across the base. Fire Chief Panholzer hopes a lot of cars turn up.
“If we could get some really, really heavy traffic, it would certainly give us an idea of capacity and some issues that might come up. But just going through the exercise is going to teach us a lot,” Panholzer says.
The emergency evacuation route through the Presidio will be open and tested Saturday morning from 9 to 11am. Drivers enter at the Pine Street Gate and will exit at the High Street Gate.