Report shows extent of road damage

It’s no secret that local roads are in need of repairs, but a recent county report made clear just how bad the roads are.

San Benito County Resource Management Agency Director Brent Barnes reported to supervisors last week on the state of county roads. Barnes said the maintenance budget for roads is around $500,000 a year, but that it was dedicated to resolving life-threatening conditions.

During the same meeting, County Office of Emergency Services Manager Kevin O’Neill said the recent storms damaged roads and bridges that could cost millions to repair.

If Measure P had passed in June 2016, the 1/2-cent sales tax would have generated an estimated $240 million of 30 years. Half of the funds would’ve gone to Highway 25 upgrades and the other half toward local road fixes.

The Council of San Benito County Governments, also known as COG, tried to use the tax as a way to fund road improvements throughout the county. Support came from a wide range of businesses, nonprofit groups and political leaders. Despite that support, others hesitated over details like the 30-year term length and vagueness in the measure’s language potentially allowing for non-specified projects.

Supervisor Mark Medina took to Facebook to share his opinion on the state of local roads.

“We the county and city elected officials need to figure a solution to this problem,” Medina said in a Saturday afternoon Facebook post. “This problem did not happen overnight as the roads have been deteriorating over years and decades. If we decide to ask our residents to vote on a tax increase in 2018 we as elected officials must gain the trust from our constituents and we MUST spend these funds on ROADS AND ROADS only and under no circumstances will these funds be used for anything else.”

Supervisor Robert Rivas also took to Facebook to share some thoughts on the state of local roads.

Rivas shared two photos in a Monday Facebook post: one of multiple, massive potholes in a county road and another of a truck damaged by those potholes.

“We must fix our local roads; it is a matter of public safety,” Rivas said. “Conditions on many roads are very dangerous. I’ll be working with my fellow Supervisors and County staff to find a solution. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue – it is a community issue that requires all of us to work together to solve. Let’s get to work!”

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