Large crowd at chamber demands answers regarding Sierra Way 

Photo by Catherine Stachowiak

Story by Catherine Stachowiak

Public works assistant director Sal Gomez said the county has tried to repair Sierra Way by installing culverts. They brought dirt and rock into the area. Because of limitations, regarding adding slurry, as soon as they let water go through, they noticed within a couple of days the effort was failing to be a solution to opening the damaged road. 

The County of Kern is seeking additional local funds for another temporary long-term solution until they can provide a more permanent solution repairing the road. 

The department hopes to begin the work in contract in April and to complete the work by July.  “The goal is to have it (the road) open by July,” said Gomez.

“As you all know there’s a lot of challenges there.  We’re working with Caltrans.  They will provide us with additional rock. And we’re going to be basically paying a fee because we’re going to be using slurry so we can stabilize the base of the road,” Gomez said.   

Photo by Catherine Stachowiak

Alex Bedolla, Engineering Manager of Road Maintenance at Kern County Public Works said, “Back in late October, into November, we worked with another local contractor to essentially bring in more material. We bought in about 500 tons of rock.” 

However because of Water Board and US Army Corps of Engineers requirements, the county public works could not use slurry during the repair. 

 Kern County public works engineers thought that a permanent solution to the road issues would be a box culvert or other culverts at that location.  The permanent solution of a box culvert or possibly bridge would be years down the road and could cost over 5 million dollars, whereas a temporary solution would cost much less to accomplish and take until summer.

Caltrans would be donating more large rocks to build a sturdier foundation for the road.

They intend to bring in additional rock and are attempting to stabilize the road. 

Some locals present in the audience packed room complained that once again the solution would be temporal, a patch job. Other residents and business owners in the room complained about the money used for temporary solutions, which could have been permanent, by now. Residents also blamed the USACE.

Supervisor Phillip Peters, who was present at the meeting, said it was the state agencies, above the Kern County public works, which have prevented the repair from being more than temporary and that officials tried to get money from FEMA for this issue and have not been successful yet continue to pursue funding.   

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