Nevada County Roads: Status Update

Storm-related calls for service to Public Works from Feb. 6-10

NEVADA CITY, Calif. February 10, 2017 – The Nevada County Public Works Department graciously responded to our request for a run-down of current issues. Crews have been working around the clock to clear and repair the roadways. These issues are in addition to the Hwy 49 and now I-80 closures.

Joshua Pack with Public Works stated, “I’ve attached a ‘heat map’ of storm related requests over the past 5 days. As you can see, the storm has not hit one specific area in the county. These impacts have stretched our crews out throughout the far reaches of Nevada County and have affected nearly all of our 560+ miles of county-maintained roads. In discussions with the Road Superintendent and road crews who have been with the county since the late 1980’s, they believe that the recent series of storms have hit the county roads harder and caused more cumulative damage than any other storms during their time here.”

Brunswick Road south of Greenhorn / East Bennett

Photo courtesy Nevada County Public Works

Portions of the southbound lane of Brunswick Road south of Greenhorn and East Bennett have slipped approximately 12-15 inches or more from the adjacent northbound lane and have caused the road crews to place temporary traffic controls along this portion of roadway. Currently there is sufficient width on the northbound lane and shoulder to allow two-way traffic. Earlier this morning engineering and maintenance staff met with soils engineers to discuss the slip and potential repair options. At this point county staff will continue to monitor this section of Brunswick Road and may take additional action if the slip progresses. Complicating matters is the recent closure of I-80 east of Colfax. Traffic being diverted along 174 and Brunswick Road, significantly increasing traffic as unfamiliar drivers and traffic drive through this area. Local residents are encouraged to avoid the area if possible and to slow down as they drive through the traffic controls. Highway 174 is also a viable alternate route. We currently have no timeline available for repairs.

Maybert Road east of Washington

Earlier yesterday, Maybert Road was once again closed along the South Yuba River east of the town of Washington. The road was closed last month as heavy rains and storm water flows caused the river to wash out a 200-foot section of road at this locations. Road crews reconstructed the road and opened it to traffic on January 30th. The most recent storm activity affected a portion of these repairs. While initial reports suggest that the damage is not nearly as severe as the previous storm, the road will likely remain closed through the weekend until river flows can subside and road crews and assess the damage. We currently have no timetable available for these repairs as well.

Cooper Road north of Arborgast Ranch Road

Despite numerous loads of gravel and focused road stabilization efforts by road crews, Cooper Road north of Arborhast Ranch Road will be closed over the weekend due to impassable traffic conditions. Groundwater is seeping up from the ground along the unpaved portions of this road, creating muddy conditions impassable for most vehicles. Road crews will be onsite early next week once the site dries up a bit to continue their efforts and make the road passable again.

Highway 49 affects county roads

The closure of Highway 49 between Newtown Road and Tyler Foote Road has had significant impacts on county roads as traffic finds alternate routes around this closure. Currently county staff is recommending the Newtown Road – Bitney Springs Road – Pleasant Valley Road alternate route, as these roads are well maintained and paved (albeit narrow). Local residents familiar with county roads are also using other roads like North Bloomfield and Purdon Road to bypass the issues on Highway 49. These roads – designed for significantly lower traffic volumes and that typically see little use during the winter – are being significantly impacted by the increased traffic. In particular, dirt portions of both Purdon and North Bloomfield are seeing accelerated rutting and washboarding in addition to debris from the storm, and local slides along Purdon Road threaten our ability to keep this road open. Road crews continue to monitor and respond as quickly as possible to these issues.

East County sees localized flooding

Earlier this week we saw localized flooding on Soda Springs Road at the bridge just south of Donner Pass Road. According to road crews the flooding caused by heavy rains on the summit was passable but nevertheless affected local traffic, including residents in the nearby Serene Lakes subdivision. Placer and Nevada Counties along with Sugar Bowl and local residents all worked to remove snow berms and other obstructions on the river causing the flooding on Soda Springs. We’ve also received other calls during the week for localized flooding along Donner Pass Road and other high elevation roadways. Much of the problem is the large ice berms that have been built up over the previous storms that limit the ability of water to efficiently drain. The result is that storm water flows are concentrated in the few paths that it has available, causing localized flooding in these locations.

Other weather impacts

Localized flooding is still a prevailing issue on county roads, as we’ve received more 30 calls since Monday about flooding and damaged roads from this recent storm. Existing slides on Augustine Road and Wet Hill Road have seen continued activity over the past week. Material from the hillsides at these locations continues to be deposited onto the road, as road crews continue to monitor and clean up as needed. Numerous trees have fallen throughout the county and affected local traffic highlighted by a tree that fell earlier this week on North Bloomfield at Coyote Street. This tree damaged local utility poles and took most of Tuesday to repair and reopen. Road crews will continue to be on call over the weekend to respond to any additional safety issues or concerns. Night crews will also be on hand to de-ice local roads, and temperatures are expected to drop over the coming days.

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