MENDOCINO Co, CA, 5/16/23 — Mendocino County is seeking bids for several different road repair projects from Laytonville to Point Arena. Around $3.7 million will be spent — some from county coffers, but most from other sources — on fixing damage incurred during the storms that swept through between January and March, leaving exhausted emergency responders and two FEMA disaster declarations in their wake.
Overtime was the rule for the Mendocino County Department of Transportation (DOT) this winter, according to an update from the Sheriff’s Office at a Board of Supervisors meeting in early March, particularly when the North County got a dumping of several feet of snow.
“The road crews for our county have done a huge lift for us,” CEO Darcie Antle said at the time. “They’re not here because they’re out clearing the roads up in Spy Rock, Brooktrails, and Bell Springs.”
DOT Director Howard Dashiell told The Mendocino Voice in a phone conversation that 15 positions in his department are vacant after the board — “rightfully” — increased wages by 10% over the past three years. (Dashiell opted not to hire in vacant positions year over year to meet the new requirements). He now has a “better compensated smaller workforce” — but during high intensity moments, the work can take longer.
With better spring weather comes the chance to do more robust repairs. Dashiell said that his crews are still at work to clear some roads, including Navarro Ridge Road and Usal Road.
“We’re frankly still working to catch up on the roads where no one lives,” he explained. “We obviously prioritize where people live, so fortunately, during all the storms, there were very few people that were cut off for more than a few days. We were able to get the essential openings done. But it was a lot over two big storm cycles, and we’re slowly catching up with it.”
For more intensive repairs, the DOT seeks bids on three different contracts: one will replace 450 feet of guardrail on Mountain View Road near Point Arena. A portion of the guardrail was destroyed in the tragic turnover crash that killed Edgar Castillo, 37, while he was contracted for utility restoration work under PG&E during the January storms.
The removal and replacement of the guardrail is estimated at $104,230; cost for the project will be partially paid by the insurance of either PG&E or the contracting company, Dashiell confirmed, around $57,443.75. The county Road Fund will cover the remainder.
Other permanent repairs to Mountain View and to Mendocino Pass Road will cost approximately $2,110,313. The county expects that 88.8% of that cost will be reimbursed through the Federal Highway Administration.
The DOT also plans $1,658,401 worth of repairs to Buckeye Road, Elkhorn Road, Laytonville-Dos Rios Road, Old Stage Road, Peacock Road, and Zenia Road. Costs for these repairs have been factored into the upcoming fiscal year budgets, but the county also expects 93.75% of the funds to be reimbursable through FEMA and the California Disasters Assistance Act.
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.