Remote County Roads, Washed Out By Deluge, Remain Closed

(November 4)  For nearly two months, the National Trials Highway, between Fort Cady Road to Amboy Road and Cadiz Road to Mountain Springs Road/Interstate 40, has been closed pending roadway repairs and bridge evaluations.
On Sunday, September 7, 2014, and Monday, September 8, 2014, thunderstorms and flooding in the Mojave Desert in the communities of Helendale, Silver Lakes, Barstow, Newberry Springs, Ludlow, Amboy and Essex caused damage to various county roads and bridges.
On September 23, 2014, the board of supervisors made an emergency finding relating to the need for repair work on various roads and bridges in the Mojave Desert, triggering the public work division’s access to stand-by funding that could be used to survey the damage and initiate repair work.
According to San Bernardino County Public Works Director Gerry Newcombe, “Preliminary estimates for the emergency repairs total $1,430,000, which includes $805,000 in debris removal and erosion repair, $130,000 in asphalt roadway repairs and $495,000 in bridge repairs. Additional bridge evaluations by the department of public works may further refine the bridge repair estimate.”
This week, at Newcombe’s suggestion, the board of supervisors voted to extend the finding it had made on September 23 that the emergency continues to exist.
Public Contract Code Section 22050 requires an agenda item to be calendared for each regularly scheduled board meeting or every 14 days until the emergency action is terminated to allow the board to review and determine, by a four-fifths vote, whether there is a need to continue the emergency action.
Newcombe said public works department “crews have been performing work to clear debris and repair shoulder erosion since the storm event occurred and it is anticipated repair work will continue until the end of November 2014. The most extensive damage occurred along National Trials Highway where large sections of asphalt roadway surface were damaged and in some locations removed; earth shoulders were heavily eroded; earth material behind bridge abutments and wingwalls washed away; bridge timber elements were damaged; and bridge and roadways were overtopped resulting in debris on the roadways.”
Newcombe told the board that he has available revenue, means, equipment and manpower to carry out the repairs, but that doing so will eat into the funds set aside for carrying out repairs all over the county. He said the exigency is such that the county does not have the luxury of putting the repair projects out to bid to drive down the cost.
“Emergency work will be funded by Gas Tax,” Newcombe said. “Sufficient appropriation and revenue are included in the 2014-15 road operations budget; however, this item will impact the department’s ability to perform routine maintenance work on other roads since said emergency repairs were not included in the budget. A delay to solicit competitive bids for the work is still not feasible, as the subject roads and bridges need to be immediately repaired in order to provide the public and emergency responders a safe route of travel.”

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