Friday, February 12, 2016

Roads, Safety About to Get a Big Boost from Measure Z

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge Dr. Richard Scheinman. who lives on Lighthouse Road in Petrolia, sent us a picture of the pothole he bumps over on his way to treat patients. He sent Supervisor Rex Bohn a bill for the front end repairs made to his truck and has not heard back, he reports. - RICHARD SCHEINMAN
  • Richard Scheinman
  • Dr. Richard Scheinman. who lives on Lighthouse Road in Petrolia, sent us a picture of the pothole he bumps over on his way to treat patients. He sent Supervisor Rex Bohn a bill for the front end repairs made to his truck and has not heard back, he reports.
No pitchforks were actually being waved, but Mattole Valley residents who turned out Wednesday night to talk roads and safety with Supervisor Rex Bohn and other officials weren't optimistic. That was before they got a whole lot more good news than they'd bargained for. In January 2016 the Measure Z Citizens Committee recommend that $125,000 of unspent measure Z funds go to public works to help fix ailing rural roads. Instead, Bohn and Public Works director Thomas Mattson shocked the crowd assembled at the Mattole Grange by announcing that a full million dollars had been approved instead.

"It's real good news, thanks to Rex. He worked his ass off to get it there," said Sonny Anderson, a Petrolia resident who has visited several Board of Supervisors and Measure Z meetings to ask about infrastructure repair. "This is how government should work."

Anderson and 239 other Mattole Valley residents signed a petition asking for more money to be put towards repairs on the Mattole Road, Wildcat, Bull Creek and Wilder Ridge roads, which have numerous potholes, failures and slides. They presented it to Bohn on Wednesday.
 
At the Feb. 9 Board of Supervisor's mid-year budget meeting, it was discussed that public works had only received $400,000 of the $630,000 it had requested for the previous fiscal year. With a surplus in Measure Z funds being put back into the county's general fund, Bohn motioned that the remainder of the money be given to public works. Supervisor Estelle Fennell upped the ante by requesting an additional $770,000, bringing the total up to $1 million. The Board voted unanimously to approve the spending.

"I'm really happy we get to fund the roads," said Fennell. "It’s really a safety issue. I’m glad the full board agreed."

It is not yet known which districts will get the bulk of the money, but Fennell said that she understood failing culverts to be a priority, many of which are in the county's rural areas. The money was in the hands of the public works department Wednesday morning. The amount is one-tenth of what  Mattson has said his department needs to address annual deferred road maintenance, and a drop in the bucket of the roughly $200 million of total deferred maintenance countywide.

Due to the President's Day holiday, the Journal was unable to reach Mattson, Mattson, reached by telephone as he prepared to drive back from a meeting in Sacramento, said the boost was "really surprising," although it is only a small portion of what his department needs in total.

"It's one half of one percent of the total, basically," he said, adding that it wasn't yet decided how the money would be divvied. "I’m having all of my crew leaders submit projects to me. There are number of culverts, extensive patching and slurry fills to do. We plan to balance between preventative maintenance and catch-up."

Bohn said in an email that the Mattole meeting was "great."

"Rural county roads are in a rough position regarding funding and there were extra dollars available from Measure Z," he wrote. "The board agreed with requests by Supervisor Fennell and myself that monies spent on roads and culvert maintenance would hinder further and more expensive repairs down the road( pun intended)."  

Bohn added that he hopes to use some Measure Z funding to get resident sheriff's deputies in the Mattole Valley and Shelter Cove. More information will be forthcoming when the notes from the budget meeting are released next week.

Updated from a previous post in which Mattson was not quoted.
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Linda Stansberry

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Linda Stansberry is a staff writer of the North Coast Journal.

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