Bond would provide $18M for county road repairs

Embattled from fighting potholes and street flooding from behind his steering wheel in North Fair Oaks, John Shott hopes some relief may be on the way for local drivers in the form of $18 million for county road repairs.

His neighborhood, in unincorporated San Mateo County, has among the county’s worst roads and storm drains in places, officials said. “Some of the streets are just crummy,” said Shott, president of the North Fair Oaks Council. Among the worst is Placitas Avenue, he said.

Those streets and others could be in line for repairs if the $19.9 billion state transportation bond measure recently approved by lawmakers for the November ballot passes, county Deputy Director of Public Works Donna Vaillancourt said. San Mateo County expects to receive a projected $18.4 million from the measure.

“Having the funds to do it more quickly is definitely better,” Shott said.

Repairs to the midcoast area, around Montara and Pacifica, are also on the table, officials said. And cities in the county will each receive their own funding if voters approve the bond.

When placed in perspective, though, the $18 million is mostly a Band-Aid when compared to the $94 million in deferred roadwork the county has amassed in recent years as a result of funding and staffing cuts, officials said Thursday. “The $18.4 million really isn’t going to go very far,” Board of Supervisors President Jerry Hill said. “It’ll help us but it won’t solve the problem.”

Facing such a staggering amount of work, the county last summer reduced the standard for road upkeep, essentially allowing Public Works to defer more projects, officials said. The county maintains about 310 miles of roads.

Partially to blame for the reduction in funding is the suspension of Proposition 42 from 2003 to 2005, a result of the state’s fiscal emergency, which cost the county about $8 million in transportation funds, officials said. Prop. 42, approved by voters in 2002, required that gasoline sales tax revenues be earmarked for transportation purposes.

Vaillancourt agreed more funding would be needed, but said the $18 million would allow the county to raise its road conditions standards once again. “It’s doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s going to go a long way to improve the condition of our local roads.”

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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