Levee repairs look likely

Winter rains left breaches along Pacheco Creek

Shore Road near Lovers Lane, where flood waters flowed over roadways at certain areas.
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While this year’s raging winter storms are long gone, the county is still working on repairing the damaged levee the rains left behind.

Rainfall and flooding earlier this year caused San Benito County to declare a flooding emergency in the area around Lover’s Lane as well as Shore Road and San Felipe Road.

On Jan. 12, county inspection teams discovered a Pacheco Creek levee breach. According to the County Office of Emergency Services, the breach is about 100-feet long by 50-feet deep. Two more levee breaches occurred soon after.

Emergency Services Manager Kevin O’Neill said the county will soon put out a Request for Proposal to get repairs started.

“What we’re working on now is getting plans and specs for an RFP to the Board of Supervisors at their Aug. 22 meeting,” O’Neill said. “Once it’s approved, the RFP will be advertised for 20 working days.”

The county will then be able to pick from a list of contractors. The repairs are expected to be completed before the winter rains begin later this year.

“We’re going with an RFP process simply because it’s important to be transparent about large expenses,” Supervisor Mark Medina said Tuesday. “We want to give everyone an equal opportunity. That process is going on as we speak.”

After the breaches, the county hired Granite Construction to clear debris that had built up in the levee system. The levee runs across multiple private properties, which made it difficult for the county to get out to assess the damage at the time.

Three-quarters of the repairs will be paid by the United States Department of Agriculture, leaving the county to pick up the remainder, O’Neill said.

“It’s been back and forth with the USDA, making sure everyone’s bases are covered and getting the plans together. This doesn’t happen frequently.”

It’s unclear how much repairs will cost.

“I don’t have actual figures of how much it’ll be right now, we’re making sure it’s accurate,” O’Neill said. “It’s hard to say what we think it’s going to be. It could be X and turn out to be Y.”

O’Neill said he appreciated the public’s patience and said the county was working hard on getting important projects done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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