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July 18, 2024

Update on local road repair projects

By Zach Friend, Santa Cruz County Supervisor

Here are some updates on local road repairs and proposed projects for bike and pedestrian safety this year. Funding for these projects comes from Measure D (which brings in about $900,000/year to our district for local roads), SB 1 (gas tax) funding, which is currently being used for major storm damage repairs and other state and federal transportation funds.

Storm Damage Repairs 

First, an important update on storm damage repairs. Some roads with major storm damage that have been held up by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as they considered extension requests for projects, have been approved for extensions. The extensions were due mainly to federal environmental review. Now that these projects have been granted extensions the repair process can continue to move forward. This is a significant development and will allow projects that are desperately needed on locations like Trout Gulch and lower Valencia to move forward. 

Upper Valencia (by Flume) was approved in early winter for funding by the FHWA, including the secondary failure that occurred adjacent to the first failure. The County’s design is complete and the project is with State Fish and Wildlife for permitting. Fish and Wildlife have told us they anticipate issuing permits in the spring, which would allow the County to go to bid for construction in the summer. The state’s permitting process takes a minimum of 90 days. 

Other projects, such as Trout Gulch and the lower Valencia damage, were waiting for the extension to now submit our initial plans, engineering and design to FHWA move forward. With those approvals we can move to permitting, bidding and construction.

The storm damage repair on McGregor Drive is moving forward. In December, the Board of Supervisors authorized the bidding process on this and bids were opened in early January. Construction is expected in the spring and the proposal is to restore the roadway to its pre-disaster condition including construction of an engineered fill/vegetated rock slope protection embankment, guardrail, asphalt concrete dike, reconstructed roadway, erosion control and revegetation. 

On the corner of Sumner and Dolphin in Seascape, the emergency road repair is almost complete. This project required work on a culvert (approximately 40 feet below the road’s surface) that had failed as well as utility conduit that was leaking. The repair, estimated at $800,000, will replace the road’s surface, foundation and culvert system on Sumner and Dolphin and improve the overall drainage system. 

Measure D and other local road projects 

Beyond storm damage there is general maintenance work being done (through Measure D) as well as bike and pedestrian improvements through federal and state Transportation Development Act (TDA) funding and Regional Surface Transportation Program Exchange funds. 

In Corralitos, we secured about $1.1 million in Regional Surface Transportation Program Exchange funds to resurface all of Pioneer and Varni Road. This is a significant project that is long overdue and the funding was secured by changing funding allocations at the Regional Transportation Commission to bring in a set formula to the County.

In Seacliff, Measure D local road funds will be used this year to resurface a number of streets and in the Rio Del Mar/Seascape area pedestrian improvements near Rio Del Mar Elementary will occur. Using Transportation Development Act (TDA) funds we have secured just under $100,000 for pedestrian improvements near RDM Elementary to fill a sidewalk gap and provide curb extension and crosswalk realignment (to reduce crossing distance) on Pinehurst and Greenbrier. Additionally, this year $475,000 was set aside for bike lane maintenance from TDA funds for the county including areas throughout our district. The last TDA funding element for our district is for $30,000 for the Street Smarts/Vision Zero campaign. You may have seen some of these educational signs on lights throughout Santa Cruz and this will provide funding to bring these educational materials to our district. 

The Mar Vista Bike and Pedestrian Bridge

The long-promised Highway 1 Mar Vista Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossing will provide a safe link between schools, the beach, residential neighborhoods. With the passage of Measure D the initial funding mechanism is secured. Combined with state funding the project is 60 percent funded. Initial engineering and environmental has started and is anticipated to be finished at the end of 2020. Final design and environmental should be completed in mid-2022 with construction contracts awarded soon after and construction to begin in 2023. 

As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on local roads or any other issues. Feel free to call me at 454-2200 or visit me at office hours in Aptos, Corralitos, Watsonville or Seascape. 

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