One major storm-damaged road in Tuolumne County is now on the fast track to getting repaired, while another is being evaluated following a partial hillside collapse on Tuesday morning.
The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting Friday morning to approve an urgency ordinance that will shorten the time it will take to get bids from contractors for fixing Ferretti Road in Groveland, which has been unpassable beyond the entrance to Pine Mountain Lake since March.
At the same meeting, the board approved a resolution that will allow County Administrator Craig Pedro to authorize any necessary action to repair Buchanan Road in Tuolumne, a portion which was damaged by a partial hillside collapse due to the rainfall on Tuesday.
“This is one of those things that add risk and uncertainty to the budgeting process, but we have to do it,” said District 2 Supervisor Randy Hanvelt, who previously used the same words to describe the current fiscal year’s county budget that the board approved on Sept. 18.
The urgency ordinance, which takes immediate effect, changes the county’s bidding process on public contracts to reduce the notification period from 30 to 15 days before the opening of bids.
While the state only requires 15 days, the county’s ordinance required the additional time.
Carlyn Drivdahl, deputy county counsel, said the county is hoping to open bids for the repairs to Ferretti Road on Oct. 22.
A portion of Ferretti Road was washed out just past the entrance to Pine Mountain Lake during a major storm in March that also caused significant flooding in Groveland. The road is a major collector that provides access to a number of homes, a community services district, high school and airport.
People have used a detour through the gated community of Pine Mountain Lake to get around the damaged portion of the road. Drivdahl said it’s important to repair the road as soon as possible because, although PML has been generous, their “generosity is not guaranteed.”
The county planned to release the bid book Friday after the board’s approval of the urgency ordinance.
Meanwhile, county engineers will be working over the weekend with a geotechnical expert to the hillside that collapsed onto Buchanan Road past Carter Street due to rain on Tuesday.
A roughly $16 million project to reconstruct two miles of the road and replace Buchanan Mine Road Bridge had just been completed days before on Sept. 28. The project was funded by a program under the Federal Highway Administration to improve local and state roads that provide access to federal lands.
The road leads to the North Fork Tuolumne River and multiple locations in the Stanislaus National Forest, including River Ranch Campground, the Clavey River and Cherry Lake.
Kim MacFarlane, assistant director of public works under the county’s Community Resources Agency, said one lane of the road was currently closed as a result of the slide. She didn’t yet know how long it will take to get the road fully open again, or if both lanes will have to be closed at some point.
District 1 Supervisor Sherri Brennan said there will be a number of permittees trying to move cattle off their allotments this month and need the road for access. She also noted it will be a major access road for Rim Fire restoration projects expected to get underway next spring.
Tanya Allen, engineering manager for the county, said she was “100-percent positive” that the slide was in the same area as another that occurred during storms earlier this year. The previous slide was cleaned up by the Federal Highway Administration as part of the contract for the larger project.
The hope is that the administration will agree to fund the stabilization of the hillside.
This comes at a time when county officials are still working to repair more than $8 million in damage to roads throughout the county from the major storms earlier this year, in addition to other roads still damaged from storms in 2017.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.