Between 2017 and 2019 storm damage and destruction caused by the August Fire Complex in 2020, Trinity County will receive nearly $45 million in state and federal emergency funds to repair multiple damaged roadways.
Trinity County Director of Transportation Rick Tippett offered a brief summary of the damages and the timeline for repairs in a report last week to the Trinity County Board of Supervisors.
The massive August fire that burned last summer and fall through a western portion of Tehama County, most of Southern Trinity County and into Humboldt County caused an estimated $20 million to $25 million in damages to Trinity County roads including Mad River, Ruth Zenia, Zenia Lake Mountain and Van Duzen roads the county has been awarded reimbursement for.
Tippett said most of the repair cost will be in the removal of burned hazard trees numbering in the thousands along many of the roads.
“We are working with Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service to move forward with that immediately,” he said, noting all of the tree work is located on the Six Rivers National Forest which shares the county’s goal in making the logs available for salvage.
The county has estimated there are between 3,000 and 5,000 dead/standing trees that need to be removed “and we want them to go for salvage or disposal in some other productive manner at the mill or for biofuels. We want to do whatever we can do so it doesn’t become firewood, and the Six Rivers has taken the same position rather than leave it on the ground,” Tippett said.
Other repairs needed in the aftermath of the August fire include replacement of damaged road signs, happening soon, and restriping of pavement in the spring when the weather warms up enough to take the paint. The other big jobs remaining include numerous culvert repairs and replacement of metal guardrails including all the wooden posts that burned in the fire. They must all be replaced with metal.
Tippett said up to 40 percent of the cost will be in culvert replacements. If they are less than five feet deep, county crews will replace them, but there are 15 deeper than that and they will require extra concrete material and an outside contractor to perform the work.
Regarding how the August fire repairs fit with everything else, Tippett said the department is still working on 2017 and 2019 storm repair projects including replacement of a section of Canyon Creek Road that slid into the creek. The planning and design work is expected to be finished for that project this summer with construction slated for the following year. There was also 2017 damage to Ruth and Mad River roads slated for construction this summer. Design work is also set to begin on the Wildwood bridge construction project this year.
Altogether, the road department is working with approximately $15 million for 2017 storm damage; up to $25 million for the August fire and about $5 million on 2019 storm damage.
Because the extra workload significantly impacts the road department staffing, Tippett said the department goes to outside agencies to get the design work done.
Other upcoming projects he mentioned include design of a long-delayed Lowden Park bike trail and bridge project in Weaverville and an update of the county’s Regional Transportation Plan that identifies needed projects 20 years out.
The long-awaited and many times delayed installation of the first traffic signal in Trinity County at the intersection of Lance Gulch, Glen Road and Highway 299 in Weaverville is now expected in April and will take about a month to complete.