Warm Weather Ahead, Repairing Roads a Priority from Fallout of Winter Storms

Editor’s Note: This updated version reflects the current figures for road repairs and cost breakdown from winter storms as of May 11, 2017, according to Caltrans. The original story was published on March 15, 2017.


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 timeframe 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 60 emergency contracts currently open at a cost of $113 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 $974 million. The cost breakdown includes $740 million on emergency projects and $231 million on permanent restoration projects. There are 425 damaged sites and 282 emergency contracts.

Click here to learn more about ongoing road repair projects in Caltrans District 3.


Additional resources:


Winter Storm Preparedness



Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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