Eureka Times-Standard: Measure Z funded $1.7M in roadwork in 2017

December 29, 2017

December 29, 2017 
By: Hunter Cresswell 

Measure Z funding paid for repairs, upgrades and maintenance of roads throughout Humboldt County this year and that work is expected to continue through the New Year.

Measure Z funding for county roads will continue and state funding for Senate Bill 1 for streets and highways is expected to start coming in during 2018, Humboldt County Public Works Director Thomas Mattson said.

“We got about $1.7 million in Measure Z this year,” he said of revenue from the half-cent, countywide sales tax adopted by voters in 2014 to fund public safety services. The tax sunsets in 2020.

Mattson said $1 million went into pothole and grader patching on about 130 miles of road and the remaining $700,000 went into slurry seal treatments across the county.

“We did about 10 miles of road with that,” he said.

About $200 million is needed in Humboldt County to bring all roads up to pristine condition, Mattson said.

“That’s our deferred maintenance to get the roads back to what we call good shape,” he said.

Mattson said it’s cheaper to maintain a road than replace it.

“What we can do now will save money in the future,” he said.

Looking ahead at 2018 for county road Measure Z funding, Mattson said he plans on asking for money to clean culverts, dig drainage dishes, cut back roadside vegetation and control the flow of water.

“What we really need is basic maintenance funding,” he said. “We’re going to ask for as much as we can get; like I said, we’re way behind.”

Mattson said he runs Measure Z funded projects by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors but SB 1 road funding is much more stringent.

“SB 1 actually requires us to bring a project to supervisors and submit them to the state,” he said.

Senate Bill 1, the road repair and accountability act of 2017, is the first increase in transportation funding in two decades, according to the California Transportation Commission website.

“It’s been a long time since there’s been a big infusion,” Mattson said. “It gives local roads and streets about a third of what we need to keep roads in good conditions.”

By the end of fiscal year 2017-18, the county roads division will have received about $1.8 million in additional SB 1 funding, and at the end of the following fiscal year and beyond the roads division will be getting a yearly additional $5 million in SB 1 funds, Mattson said.

He already has 10 projects lined up ready for SB 1 funding, including Americans with Disabilities Act curb upgrades on Harrison Avenue, a reconstruction project on a portion of Myrtle Avenue, resurfacing a portion of School Road in McKinleyville and other projects.

“This is just the beginning,” Mattson said.

It won’t just be municipalities enjoying SB 1 funding. Caltrans will also get a cut, Caltrans District 1 public information officer Myles Cochrane said.

“In Humboldt County what we’re looking to focus on with SB 1 money is the drainage and pavement stuff,” he said.

The California Transportation Commission decides how much will be allocated to Caltrans, then District 1 personnel will have a better idea of what highway projects will be undertaken, Cochrane said.

According to the California Transportation Commission website, the commission’s first meeting of the year will be held on Jan. 31 in Sacramento.

A full map of Measure Z roadwork complete in past years is available on the county website at humboldtgov.org/2144/Measure-Z-Road-Work.

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