Relentless winter storms caused flooding, threats of levee breaches and severe weather across California throughout January and February. While precipitation was much needed after six-plus years of drought, the endless amount of rain and snow in such a short period created public safety concerns.
Most of the wet weather was triggered by atmospheric river storms – waves of moisture that move north from tropical areas and over the West Coast. Recovery from the storms is ongoing and will be a long-term process.
Among the concerns from the storm fallout is significant road damage, specifically in the Sierras. Caltrans District 3, which maintains and operates 1,491 center-line miles and 4,385 lane miles in 11 Sacramento Valley and Northern Sierra counties, has 45 emergency contracts currently open at a cost of $63.4 million.
All of the mountain highways have been impacted in some form by the winter storms. The majority of the emergency projects involve slipouts and slides, according to Caltrans District 3 spokesperson Steve Nelson.
“Slopes need to be stabilized, sections of highway rebuilt and drainage improvements made,” Nelson said. “On one section of Highway 50, a new 600-foot retaining wall needs to be constructed, a significant undertaking.”
Statewide, the total damage estimate for road repairs is $730 million. The cost breakdown includes $622 million on emergency projects and $108 million on permanent restoration projects. There are 386 damaged sites and 267 emergency contracts.
During the month of February 2017, Caltrans maintenance crews statewide repaired 62,362 potholes at a cost of $3.24 million. By comparison, Caltrans maintenance crews statewide repaired 37,187 potholes at a cost of $1.77 million during the month of February 2016.
Cal OES is in the process of conducting Applicant Briefings with various counties to receive reports on a list of damages. Responsible for funding on damages to non-federal roads, Cal OES is scheduled for Applicant Briefings through March 23.
Click here for more on Applicant Briefings.