A dangerous road, governmental red tape and a strict timeline started rumors that the crucial Pine Canyon road-widening project faced insurmountable obstacles.
But county officials say they have everything under control in the effort to widen the most important road into one of the most fire-menaced communities in the country.
The steep, narrow Pine Canyon Road will serve as an emergency exit for much of Pine in the event a fire sweeps down on the thickly forested community. The U.S. Forest Service has cleared a buffer zone at the end of the community, but most homes still sit nestled in a continuous carpet of trees on steep slopes.
In recent weeks, many community residents have been alarmed by reports that difficulties buying up right-of-way could delay the project.
However, Public Works Manager Steve Sanders reported that the bid process started on March 1 has resulted in three valid bids.
“We expect to go to the April 3 board of supervisors’ meeting to get approval to proceed,” said Sanders.
Only 16 to 18 feet wide in most places and deteriorating rapidly, the road badly needs an upgrade and widening, said Sanders.
Problem is that Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District water lines sit within the right-of-way of the wider road. The county has therefore partnered with the water district to pay to move the lines.
The rumors started at a water district meeting that the road would not be as wide as planned because not all residents had signed off on easements.
Sanders said only five easements remain to be procured.
“We don’t anticipate any problems,” he said, “Most of these people only come up on the weekends so we’ll approach them then.”
The county has created a Web site for the project. Residents may sign up for updates and check on information at www.pinecreekroad.com.