By Zach Friend, County Supervisor 2nd District
Recent rains have brought potholes and other maintenance issues on local roads and even the rail corridor. Often, residents call our office for advice on the best way to address issues on our local roads and the rail corridor. There have been some improvements to how the community can report (and receive service on) issues on both of these locations.
The Regional Transportation Commission (owner of the Santa Cruz Branch rail line) recently created a program to address repairs and ongoing maintenance of the corridor. First, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has created a process to perform regular inspections of the entire branch line. Twice annually, the RTC will proactively document maintenance needs that need addressing. Additionally, the RTC will more frequently monitor problem areas for drainage, vegetation, encampments, and graffiti. A full inspection was performed in early December of 2017, which concentrated on the storm damage. The next full inspection of the branch line is scheduled for this May.
The community can also report to the RTC an issue associated with maintenance or safety issues. Once a report comes in a ticket number is assigned to track the status of the repair and constant contact is maintained with the resident so they know the status of their maintenance request. A field inspection is performed and a maintenance contracter is hired (from a pre-approved list to cut down on response time) to address the issue.
These procedures should significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for maintenance on the rail corridor as well as increase knowledge for RTC about on-going maintenance locations and safety issues.
Additionally, the RTC has released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for engineering services to establish a list of qualified on-call engineering consultants for civil engineering, structural engineering/inspections, and construction management along the corridor. These engineering consultants will work on the bridge repair that is needed (such as the Rio Del Mar area rail overpass) and will support the RTC with inspections of bridges, assessment and design of repairs, and management of construction activities. Residents can visit sccrtc.org to contact the RTC with issues.
For issues on County roadways (including potholes, sign damage, tree trimming needs, abandoned vehicles or dead deer) residents can use the County’s free Citizen Connect mobile app. Available for download on iTunes and Google Play (or right from the county’s website — santacruzcounty.us), the app connects residents to their government through smart phones and other mobile devices, allowing them to report issues and receive updates on the status of these reported issues. Additionally, the app can be used to report illegal dumping, report graffiti and even locate nearby parks, look up parcel information, obtain restaurant inspection reports, register to vote or make an environmental health complaint and more.
The system is designed to allow for greater interactivity between the County and our residents – so when you report a pothole, for example, you will receive updates about the status of your report so you that the request has been received and know when it has been filled. It also allows you to submit photos of graffiti and potholes so that the County can triage issues and also catalog issues for proactive work.
The app has been downloaded by many residents and has become one of the most common ways these reports are made. We have found that it is one of the fastest ways and easiest to report non-emergency issues since you can do it from your phone.
As always, if there is a road issue/hazard that needs to be addressed immediately, you can call the 24-hour Public Works Dispatch line at 477-3999. The County is continuing to expand features.
If you have suggestions for additional features please feel free to call me at 454-2200.