Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

A public project to repave the Dodge Ridge parking area should be the last one before maintenance for that stretch of road is turned over to the popular ski resort.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors this week approved an agreement under which the private company will assume responsibility for maintaining the half-mile stretch at the end of Dodge Ridge Road.

The road, including the parking area, has been maintained by the county since 1948. According to the agreement approved on Tuesday, the county viewed the road at the time as a public benefit since it led to a promising site that could be developed into a winter park.

In 1994, the county and ski resort struck an agreement under which Dodge Ridge would pay for snow and ice removal during the winter. Dodge Ridge Road, off Highway 108 near Pinecrest, is the access for skiers visiting the park at the 6,600-foot elevation near Pinecrest.

The road is used by thousands of skiers every year.

The handoff will happen after completion of a $250,000 project to resurface the parking area this year.

The road project is funded by the state through Proposition 1B money, Community Resources Director Bev Shane said on Tuesday.

"The county's responsibility is to maintain those sections of road," Shane said. The Dodge Ridge Corporation has proposed to assume responsibility."

The resort has been operating since 1950 with a typical season lasting from December through April. According to the park's website, the parking improvements will mean better access to the ski slope and more available special parking permits for sale.

Sally Helm, president of the Dodge Ridge Corp., said on Tuesday that representatives with the county and company have been working on an agreement like this since 2004.

"It really works well for everyone," Helm said. "We would like to accept that portion" of the road.