What a relief it is to see rain return to our county recently. As we know, however, winter storms can wreak havoc on our roads and cause us to lose power. Many folks in the 5th District are well-accustomed to preparing themselves and their properties for winter storms. But it’s always good to remember a few key points to make sure we’re ready in the event our roads are impassable.
In November, my office co-hosted two meetings in the San Lorenzo Valley focusing on road repairs stemming from the 2016-2017 storms and what fixes are planned for 2019. But we kicked off the November 1 meeting at the Boulder Creek fire station with tips on emergency preparedness.
Emergency Services Manager Rosemary Anderson reminded the audience how important it is to leave your house each day prepared as though you may not be back right away due to road conditions or other unforeseen circumstances. She recommends having a plan for how your pets will be taken care of if you can’t reach them, and to have a blanket, phone charger and water in your vehicle if you commute on Highway 17 or mountain roads that could be compromised for hours.
In addition to having emergency supplies of food and water at your home, it is also a good practice for you and your neighbors to map your neighborhood, which helps first responders and community members have an accounting of who lives where. More tips and resources can be found at santacruzcountycert.org.
The storms of late 2016 and early 2017 caused over $100 million in damages to roads in our county. While the Department of Public Works was able to repair over 35 sites countywide through emergency contracts in 2017 and 2018, there are about 170 major sites that still need repair.
- Felton Empire Road (PM 1.4, 1.62 and 2.62)
- Mt. Charlie Road (PM 0.26, 0.54. 1.35, 1.89, 3.63)
- Alba Road (PM 0.73 and 1.58)
- Jamison Creek Road (0.70, 0.80 and 1.09)
- Bear Creek Road, (4.99, 7.00 and 7.26)
- Mt. View Road (3.63)
- Lompico Road (0.22)
- Blue Ridge Drive (0.49)
Mr. Wiesner also outlined how the Department of Public Works prioritizes roads for repair. There are four categories the department considers when making evaluations, including a ranking within each category about the severity of the repair. The categories are classified based on volume; whether the road is one way in/one way out; how severe is the loss of lane; and whether there are compromised utilities. Once the 2019 projects are completed, there are many sites that will need repair into the future but are currently in design, permitting and funding stages.
On November 19, Matt Machado, the County’s Public Works Director and Deputy County Administrative Officer, joined me and several community leaders for a tour of key roads in the San Lorenzo Valley. Mr. Machado started working for the County in May after 11 years as Director of Public Works in Stanislaus County.
Led by Valley Women’s Club co-founder Mary Hammer, the tour included northern Boulder Creek, Bear Creek Road, Alba Road, Quail Hollow Road and Felton Grove. After the tour, Mr. Machado led a community meeting at Highlands Park, where he discussed the status of road repairs and the challenges that exist in funding the improvements.
Thanks to the passage of Measure D in 2016, the County has a local funding stream to address road work and other transportation initiatives. However, many of the storm repairs involve approval of funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA,) which can be a long process.
I’m grateful the majority of California voters said no to Proposition 6 this November because it would have taken away state transportation dollars – including about $5 million for Santa Cruz County – that are funded annually by the SB1 gas tax passed by the Legislature in 2017. I also appreciate the strong voter support for Measure G, the sales tax increase for unincorporated areas that will fund critical improvements in its first year, including $400,000 for the Felton Nature Discovery Park.
Throughout the upcoming year, we will host more community meetings throughout the district. If you have an idea for future topics, please contact me at email@example.com or call my office at 831-454-2200. I wish you a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to continuing to serve you in 2019.