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Sonoma County Board of Supervisors OKs $6.5 million for road repairs

A small list of crumbling Sonoma County roads will get $6.5 million this year for badly needed repairs under a plan approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

Crafted by two board members, Shirlee Zane and David Rabbitt, the strategy is the latest tack in the county's now two-year struggle over how to pay for its beleaguered 1,382-mile road network.

The report includes a number of short and long-term measures, many of which were made public in June. Since then, Zane and Rabbitt, along with county public works staff, have worked on a key question: Which roads to select for upgrades this year.

Their recommendations, which came under some criticism Tuesday, settled on fixing 13.2 miles of roads deemed important to the local economy.

The segments lead to parks, wineries and other destinations serving tourism and agriculture throughout the county. Improving those surfaces before they degrade further will pay off, supervisors argued.

"They really are a reflection of our community's health, and that's why they're important to us," said Zane.

The spending draws on an $8 million earmark for roads that supervisors approved in June. It comes from a special reserve meant to cover delinquent property tax receipts.

The list of roads due for upgrades with the money includes stretches of Bohemian Highway serving the Russian River, Doran Beach Road serving Bodega Harbor, West Dry Creek, Westside and Eastside roads serving wineries and vineyards, and Adobe Canyon Road and London Ranch Road serving state and county parks.

Beyond simple pothole repair, those segments will get longer-lasting upgrades this year that the county terms "pavement preservation."

Currently, just under 200 miles, or 14 percent of the county network, gets such long-term maintenance.

Under a controversial triage plan first approved two years ago, the remainder, more than 1,100 miles, now gets only basic and emergency repairs, an arrangement that officials have said would ultimately lead to most roads returning to gravel.

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