Road woes in Southern Humboldt need citizen voices

Briceland Road in Southern Humboldt on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Briceland Road in Southern Humboldt on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Contributed

As the storms pummelled the county in January and again last week, Southern Humboldt’s roads seemed to take the biggest brunt of the damage. Estelle Fennell, Humboldt County’s 2nd district supervisor, recognized the impact on residents in the area. In an email with The Redwood Times, Fennell explained the current status of local road repairs funding.

“A large number of damaged roads are in the Southern Humboldt area. County Public Works and other emergency responders have been cataloguing and reporting the damage to the Office of Emergency Services,” Fennell said. “If the state and federal government provide funding it will go to specific sites that they approve. As Public Works Director Tom Mattson put it to me, we are currently in triage mode trying to keep roads open wherever they may be with our limited local funding.”

Last week, Humboldt County closed Briceland Road at Huckleberry, Kneeland Road one mile south of the school, Wilder Ridge Road at Landergen Road, Landergen Road, Eel River Drive at 1 mile marker, Mosswood Lane, Hidden Court, Salmon Creek Road at 0.56 mile marker, Benbow Drive, Kings Peak Road at 7 mile marker, Coffee Creek Road, Port Kenyon Road and portions of Alderpoint Road and Shively Road.

“Recently, our board allocated an additional $575,000 of unspent Measure Z Fund exclusively to roads,” Fennell explained. “However, that itself is a band aid. This issue is not unique to Humboldt County, it is a statewide and nationwide issue. We have been working hard with the State legislature to try to get a road funding bill approved for three years.”

Fennell said that one attempt to get more funding was Measure U, put on last November’s ballot by The Humboldt County Association of Governments, “it did not pass.” said Fennell.

“In total, cities and counties in California have a backlog of deferred maintenance of over $70 billion dollars with an additional backlog of maintenance on State Highways of over $50 billion dollars. Humboldt County alone has over $200 million in deferred maintenance before this recent storm damage.”

To get involved in helping the area access funding, Fennell recommended that citizens take action.

“Contact your state and federal representatives to let them know how important it is to fund proper repair and maintenance of our infrastructure,” Fennell said. “On a local level, practice safe rural driving. When you see a rough road, paved or unpaved, slow down. Speeding and driving recklessly over damaged roads increases the damage exponentially.”

If you have any information, videos or photos of road conditions in the area not listed here, please visit www.humboldtgov.org/1405/Road-Equipment-Maintenance for reporting instructions.

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