Repairing the storm damage on Vine Hill Road in Santa Cruz County is considered a top priority. The heavy rain that battered the area eroded a huge chunk of roadway. There are about 30 homes along the two-mile stretch. "I had about a six-minute drive to get the kids to school. Going the back way, it's about 35 minutes. So, everybody gets up earlier and we're taking less trips in and out," resident Mark Cooper told ABC7 News.
The road closure is not just a headache for residents. Vine Hill is a popular shortcut linking Highway 17 in one direction and Highway 1 in the other. "When we had a slide out down the road six years ago and it took them many months to get the road open, we had to make the circuit," resident Andrea London recalled.
Public works crews are wasting no time trying to get at least one lane operational. They laid down 120 feet of drainage pipe Tuesday and have done a preliminary evaluation of the eroded soil to see how soon they can rebuild the rest of the road. "Probably about four feet down below the muck that's down there there's some fairly solid sandstone, so we're hoping if that's consistent across the whole area, we can probably lay some crib in there and hopefully get this repaired in a month's time," said Terry Reynolds with Santa Cruz County Public Works.
While the storm damage is creating a lot of work for repair crews, it is welcome news for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. In just four days, Lexington Reservoir is up from 36 percent of capacity to 46 percent. As for one-lane traffic on Vine Hill Road, that could be a reality as early as Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm just thrilled the thing's being done quite frankly. That's really what's it's all about, the fact they got on it. You can see what's going on behind me here. It's pretty intense. It's good. It's great," resident Billy Feitleson said.
Before that one lane is reopened on Wednesday, crews will have to put a safety barrier called "K-railing" in place but they do hope that work will be completed by afternoon. One reason for the push to open both lanes is that Vine Hill Road is considered an escape route if Santa Cruz ever faces an emergency evacuation.