Bonny Doon residents should soon enjoy smoother drives, as the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works recently announced work to repair damaged roadways up the mountain.
Alba Road in Ben Lomond and Felton Empire Road in Felton are both slated for major work this year, according to public works Director John Presleigh.
However, he said the focus is on surface work, rather than complete road rebuilds.
Although both roads would benefit from a top-to-bottom resurfacing, Presleigh said, budgetary constraints force the department to prioritize repairs and treat the symptoms rather than find a cure.
“We have very limited amount of money,” Presleigh said. “We have about $125 million in backlogged maintenance on our roads (countywide).”
Granite Construction crews were on both roads Thursday, Aug. 30, preparing for the project, which Presleigh said includes six other roads throughout the county and would likely take place during the next month.
Crews will be on Alba Road sealing cracks and potholes with a chip seal — a mixture of gravel and oil — from where the road intersects with Empire Grade Road in Boulder Creek to Mile Post 2.79, just above Old Alba Grade.
Because road work funding is divided among the five county supervisorial districts based on the number of roads within each district, Presleigh said, the work on Alba Road will stop at the border between Neal Coonerty’s District 3 and Mark Stone’s District 5.
“We just don’t have the resources for (the entire road),” Presleigh said. “The key is using what we have, the best we can, where we need it.”
For its part, Felton Empire Road will receive a full resurfacing — or overlay — between mile posts 1.15 and 2.11, and a chip seal the rest of the way down to the intersection of Highway 9.
“It deservedly needs one,” Presleigh said, referring to the section of Felton Empire receiving the resurfacing. “The road was in bad shape — that’s why we’re doing the overlay.”
Bonny Doon resident Heidi Hart said looks forward to a less bumpy drive on the two roads, even if it means delays during the construction.
“As long as they get those roads in shape, I am good with the inconvenience,” she said. “Seems (as though) they have just been drawing circles around holes for months now.”
The work is being done as part of a $2.27 million project to improve what Presleigh called arterial contributor roads, such as Branciforte Drive and East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.
Crews will work during daylight hours, Presleigh said, and while there will be some traffic-controlled lane closures during the day, he said the goal was to minimize the crews’ presence during commute hours.