Winter storm damage, so far, in El Dorado County at $14.3mil |

Winter storm damage, so far, in El Dorado County at $14.3mil

Mountain Democrat

Recent severe winter storms in El Dorado County collapsed roads and culverts, buckled bridges and created enormous potholes. The damage resulted in 22 emergency projects estimated to cost around $14.3 million … so far.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting Monday, Feb. 27, to get the latest information from staff and public feedback.

County officials said most of the money spent on repairs could be reimbursed, possibly from Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, leaving El Dorado County with a more palatable $800,000 bill.

Lt. Jim Byers with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services said local officials are working with state and the federal government to determine how to pay for all the damage. Significant rainfall the county sustained in a short amount of time has made the problem worse. In January El Dorado County received nearly 18 inches of rain and in February the rainfall total was 17.4 inches, according to local weather stats.

“I’ve been here for quite a few years and I would have to say the damage to our infrastructure is some of the worst we’ve ever dealt with,” Byers said.

He said the county has never “burned through the reserve of 20,000 sandbags” until this year. OES purchased another 65,000 sandbags and is now down to 25,000, he added. The agency is also dealing with 50 to 100 slides throughout the area.

The most costly project could be Cosumnes River Mine Road bridge damage, estimated at $2.9 million.

Priority was given to high-traffic areas, including Bucks Bar Road, Mt. Aukum Road, Newtown Road, Starkes Grade and Mosquito Road. Many big projects are slated to begin this spring and summer, as most areas are heavily saturated by the recent rainfall and starting the repair process sooner was deemed too difficult as more inclement weather is predicted.

Emergency quick fixes or partial repairs could begin promptly to restore essential traffic flows, minimize the extent of damage and protect remaining facilities, county officials reported.

John Kahling, deputy director of the county engineering division, said a Federal Highway Administration request has been sent for approval for specific repairs, but the process could take several months.

Parks and trails department representatives said Henningsen-Lotus Park is still closed due to storm-related problems that include contaminated water from broken pipes, sidewalk fill washed away, a flooded parking lot and extensive damage to structures — gazebo, park tables and benches. On the El Dorado Trail (a mud-clogged culvert is among the issues) and the Sacramento-Placerville Transportation Corridor repairs are estimated to cost roughly $168,000.

The Union Mine Landfill also suffered extensive damage. Representatives said it was “the most significant single damage event to the landfill.” The repair cost is estimated at $425,000 but officials said that amount is anticipated to grow. Construction is slated to start in late spring/early summer as the site needs to dry out.

Supervisor Michael Ranalli said the “utmost priority” should be given to culvert and ditch work.

Mosquito Fire Protection District Chief Eddie Dwyer spoke about the urgency to repair roads that allow residents to vacate and emergency personnel to reach Swansboro residents. Damaged roads make it nearly impossible for emergency vehicles to navigate in the more rural areas, he said.

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