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Washed out west county road reopen to traffic

Repair crews have reopened Fort Ross Road west of Cazadero less than seven weeks after a heavy rain storm washed part of it away, an accomplishment a neighbor called "a momentous engineering feat."

An 80-foot stretch of the hillside road needed to be rebuilt on a deck-span anchored in solid rock, said Tom O'Kane, Sonoma County deputy director of road maintenance and engineering.

"It was a pretty significant project," he said, finished in record time.

A chunk of the hillside west of Cazadero Highway and King Ridge Road gave way Feb. 8 during a storm that dumped almost a foot of rain on the coastal hills. A huge chunk of hillside slid onto property below.

The washout also cut off those residing to the west. For those heading to jobs, school and personal business, it added a 45-minute detour on Meyers Grade Road to Highway 1, said Mike Nicholls, Cazadero Community Services Director.

Having it fixed "is unbelievably a relief," said Charlotte Berry, co-owner of Cazadero Supply. "Our business has been down 70 percent, ours and the Cazadero General Store. Our community has been cut in half."

One employee who lives 15 minutes from work had to commute an hour and 10 minutes to circle around into Cazadero, she said. "It's been real hard for us."

O'Kane said crews began repairs three days after the slipout, working feverishly to get the job done despite engineering and construction of several spans to bridge the hillside gap.

Paving was completed Thursday in anticipation of weekend rains, he said.

The guardrails were being finished Friday to ensure the road was safe to open to travel in both directions, said Rob Silva, county roads operations manager.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.


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