By Bruce McPherson
Fixing our roads, whether it is from regular wear-and-tear or from storm damage, is a time-consuming, expensive and complicated process. It involves a great deal of planning and is often dependent on state or federal funding. But there is hope on the horizon that we will see much improvement in the years ahead.
In my last column, I detailed the county roads in District 5 that are scheduled for repair in 2019. In case you missed it, those roads include portions of Felton Empire Road, Mt. Charlie Road, Alba Road, Jamison Creek Road, Bear Creek Road, Mt. View Road, Blue Ridge Drive and Lompico Road.
As the winter rains have returned, bringing some much-needed relief, a number of Lompico residents have expressed concern about the timeline for repairing Lompico Road because it serves as the only way in and out for residents. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of fixing this road, and it is on the County’s highest priority list for storm-damaged repairs.
Several sections of Lompico that have already been repaired were funded by FEMA, but there is still one damaged section that is down to one lane. This section is a federal aid route and the funding is coming from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), not FEMA. All “on system/federal aid” damaged road projects funded by FHWA are administered by Caltrans, which is the agency Santa Cruz County Public Works must work with to make the repairs.
Unfortunately, Caltrans is having trouble keeping up with the sheer workload of projects it’s managing for storm-related repairs. This section of Lompico Road, was originally planned to be repaired before this winter, but construction is now expected to happen in the summer of 2019. The Department of public works is currently working with Caltrans to complete the environmental review process, which was delayed, but has recently moved forward and is back on track.
Public Works wants to assure residents that the current one-lane road allows access for emergency vehicles and that Public Works is committed to keeping safe access open until the full repair is completed. If access is compromised, residents are asked to immediately contact my office at 831-454-2200 and Public Works will take emergency measures to restore access. If residents require additional information, please contact Steve Wiesner, Assistant Public of Works Director, at 831-454-2160 or email@example.com.
We also recently received an update from Caltrans about other roadwork within their jurisdiction in District 5. On Highway 9, the agency plans to start work in the spring to widen the shoulder, upgrade guardrails and add center rumble strips north of Boulder Creek to south of State Road 35. Also this spring, Caltrans plans to widen the shoulder and add a soil nail wall on Highway 17 south of the Pasatiempo overcrossing and to perform a maintenance payment overlay on Highway 17 from near Granite Creek in Scotts Valley to the Summit.
Future work will include making drainage and erosion control improvements on Highway 9 from Highway 1 to north of Glen Arbor Road to stabilize slopes. This work is planned for Fall 2020. Two years after that, similar work is planned on Highway 9 from Ben Lomond to Boulder Creek.
Many of you join me in anticipating the completion of a draft Highway 9 Corridor Plan by the Regional Transportation Commission. While Highway 9 is a beautiful corridor, there are many improvements necessary to make it safer and more accessible. We expect to see the draft in early 2019 and will participate in community meetings with the RTC to take public input.
Lastly, I can’t stress enough how valuable I find it for my office to host or attend community meetings as a way of hearing from you about challenges we face in the community and to share what the County is doing to solve problems and make life in our district even better.
In November, we covered road repairs, emergency preparedness and PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Program during two meetings in the San Lorenzo Valley. My office also was represented at a community-generated meeting in Felton to discuss homelessness, a topic that is touching many parts of our county and will require a countywide effort to address.
We are planning to host more regular meetings in 2019 and are curious about what you think would make good topics. Please send your thoughts to me at Bruce.McPherson@santacruzcounty.us or call 831-454-2200 and ask to speak with the District 5 staff.
I wish each of you a safe and wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to serving you in 2019.