Felton-Empire Grade Road in bad shape, reader says
Dear Street Smarts,
Felton-Empire Road connects Bonny Doon to Felton, and from there to Scotts Valley, Highway 17, Highway 9, and Graham Hill Road. It is a very important road which serves about 3,000 Bonny Dooners, plus Lockheed, various wineries, stables, Cal Fire, two volunteer fire stations, the Bonny Doon Elementary School and the California State Prison Camp.
The middle mile of this four mile road is a sea of potholes from a failed overlay and County Department of Public Works will not do even a temporary repair. County public works chiefs say that they will not fill the potholes because pothole repair does not last but they have no budget for a grind-off and overlay until a year or two or longer.
I agree that pothole patches don't last; however, they may last a year or more until a real repair can be done.
This road is not only unpleasant and difficult to drive, it is wrecking our cars and unsafe. Cal Fire and the prison camp have both increased their use of this road in the last few years. It's now a huge mess.
Can you also ask why the county no longer cleans ditches or cuts back roadside vegetation? On Martin Road, chaparral has overgrown half of one lane in one area. It is like Bonny Doon is being singled out for zero road maintenance.
Can you help?
Steve Homan, Bonny Dooner 35 years
Money is the main ingredient the county needs to make Felton-Empire Road whole again and the temporary solutions suggested won't do, said Steve Wiesner, assistant public works director.
The problem “is that the asphalt is lifting off in thin, long and wide sections from a previous overlay,” he said. “The sections are not deep enough to effectively patch – the patches don't seem to last.”
The fix, he said, is a $150,000 comprehensive grind and plug operation to rehabilitate the pavement. While the money isn't in this fiscal year's budget, he hopes to carve it out next year.
“We wish we had a more favorable outlook but this is the reality of today's budgetary constraints,” said Wiesner.
Apparently, the county's fiscal outlook is as bad as Felton-Empire Road:
- The county recently sustained approximately $20 million in storm related damage to our 600 mile road network with three roads still closed to through traffic and over 50 repair sites identified;
- Road maintenance funding has been flat for over 15 years;
- The number of road maintenance employees has dropped from 75 to less than 45 in six years due to increasing costs and flat revenues.
The county is “concerned that our local road network may go from bad to worse if new federal and state revenue streams and/or local tax initiatives” are not found, said Wiesner.
The county is working with lawmakers to increase funding, he said.