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West Ventura County Focus

SANTA PAULA : Road Blocked by Slide to Be Cleared

October 07, 1994|GREG RIPPEE

Two days after saying he lacked the funds to clear a landslide that has blocked South Mountain Road near Santa Paula since Sept. 8, the head of the Ventura County road department Thursday said work should begin at the site next week.

Butch Britt, head of the county's transportation department, said the county awarded a $131,905 contract Thursday to Banner Construction of Goleta to clear the rural route. Scores of residents east of the slide now take a 30-minute detour through Fillmore to reach Santa Paula.

Last year, a larger slide at the same site took 11 weeks to clear. But Britt estimated that the current cleanup could be done in four to six weeks. Work could begin as soon as Wednesday, he said.

The Board of Supervisors, particularly Supervisor Maggie Kildee, whose district includes residents inconvenienced by the slide, "has made it very clear to us to make it a priority to get it done," Britt said.

To pay for the work, he said, he intends to use money earmarked for the replacement of the Hueneme Road bridge, which leads the county's list of deficient bridges.

"We're essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul," Britt said.

He added that he expects the $2-million bridge project, which was not to begin until late next year, to be deferred no more than a couple of months. Once other funding becomes available, perhaps through federal or state assistance, he could return the funds he took from the bridge project, he said.

Although the Federal Highway Administration rejected the county's request for funding Monday, Britt expressed optimism after a meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Wednesday that the latter might help pay for the work.

That possibility results from the fact that the slide, according to county geologist Jim Fisher, was apparently triggered by an aftershock of the Jan. 17 earthquake.

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