East Valley Road a missed opportunity

Good morning Johnson Laners.

Have a nice spring everyone and I hope you had a happy Easter.

Way back in the 1950s, when Johnson Lane began, it took a man, his children and a red tractor to clear the roadway from what is now 395 to Vicky Lane. I don’t think much has changed in 70 years.

I think we can all agree that we have some of the worst roads in the county. Most side streets like Wade, Fuller, and Squires were only paved because the state was renovating 395 and they needed a place to put the grinding work down. Before this project they were all dirt roads.

In late January, work began on the East Valley between Stephanie and Downs. The developer is building six homes that required electricity and sewerage connection per district permits. This meant that this section of the East Valley had to be excavated to install the lines and connect the properties to the main lines.

I spoke to Jim Robinson from Knox Construction, who was awarded the contract. According to Jim, they had estimated the job to include a full overlay of the work area. However, one of the developers noted that the approval did not require an overlay and only patched the holes.

This change saved the developers over $120,000. Jim said it took more than a million dollars in site improvements just to get construction to begin.

I can understand the developers needing to save money, but the result is a cobblestone that looks and drives awful. I can’t imagine spending close to a million dollars on a home with this patchwork quilt for the driveway.

I then contacted Douglas County Chief Road Guy Jon Erb who said the county is revising its permit processing in hopes of preventing such problems in the future. Apparently the permit was approved without much input from his department. I then asked him a series of questions, here are the answers.

Q: How many miles of roads are in the Carson Valley?

A: There are more than 600 miles of different types of roads maintained by the county.

Q: How much does the county spend on street maintenance per year and how much is spent specifically on Johnson Lane?

A: It varies from year to year.

Q: Where does the Roads Department get money from?

A: The primary sources are a county gas tax of 9 cents per gallon, an ad valorem tax, a regional road property tax, a general capital transfer of $1,053,638, a housing tax which is $500 per package for new construction, and a commercial building tax from $5. 50 cents per square meter. We’ve had two ballet questions in the last six years. One was to index the county’s gas tax to rise with increases in the construction price index, and the other was to add diesel fuel to the county’s gas tax. Both were voted out. When I travel, I pay close attention to other state and local jurisdiction roads. We’re better off than most places I’ve been. Lack of funding for road maintenance is a common problem.

Q: How do we get EVs to contribute to road maintenance?

A: The state is working on it with vehicle kilometers driven. If you’ve registered your car recently, you know the state asks for mileage. While they haven’t made per-mile increases yet, you can bet it will show up in legislation as electric vehicles don’t contribute to a gas tax as of today.

Q: Why wasn’t the East Valley overlay required between Stephanie and Downs?

A: The East Valley rebuilding condition was debated and not included in the plans approved by the Planning Commission. (He wasn’t sure of the details.)

Q: Can the county enter into a cost-sharing agreement when developers dig up a road since a new section should be less expensive to maintain than an older layer?

A: Only if budget is available. In addition, there are requirements under state law for obtaining multiple bids for projects funded by the government. If it is over $100,000, we must pay prevailing wages and provide verification to the Nevada Department of Labor.

Q: How can we change it so that when a road is more than 50 percent patched, the company doing the patching has to redo the completed section as a whole instead of patches?

A: That would require a code change and approval from the County Commissioner. This could be a problem for utilities like Southwest Gas and NV Energy that are modernizing their facilities.

Q: What do you think the impact of 150 gravel trucks on Johnson Lane will be?

A: Without all the data I would just guess as some roads perform better than others due to age, building materials and moisture levels.

Q: According to Mr. Robinson, a road survey has been completed on Johnson Lane to comply with the regulations as a collector road and heavy truck traffic. Can you confirm the results of this survey and the date it was completed?

A: Several Geotech reports have been completed over the years on specific sections of the road, the most recent being the Heybourne to Vicky section for the County project in 2019.

Q: One of the priority projects is the rebuilding of Johnson Lane from Heyborne to Vicky, but it will cost over $3 million to complete. Any ideas where to get the funds to accomplish this task? Can the state provide funding?

A: This project has been added to the Carson Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Improvement Plan. We would like to receive grant funding from the state for the Surface Transportation Block project. It hasn’t released any information on how much they will be giving to the state planning organizations in their upcoming budget.”

Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to get stuck in this patchwork quilt along the East Valley.

District Engineer Jeremy Hutchings said the applicant said during a Jan. 9, 2020 meeting that he was not doing paving. However, on May 26, 2021, the designer said the developers. “Road cuts are not shown as we remove the entire section of road and rebuild the section according to Douglas County details.” Hutchings said the permit did not require the road to be rebuilt, and when the contractor asked about it, the county replied the contractor was “obligated.” to comply with the approved plans and terms of the permit, none of which required rebuilding the road.” Admitting that the road was not “aesthetically pleasing,” he went on to explain that he recommended that the contractor apply a Type II muddy sealing layer along the project front.” He also pledged to consider such omissions for future permit applications.

Hutchings put me in touch with the designer who said the road was substandard from the start and felt the road should be redone. He said he will revisit the issue with partners to see if the county’s recommendation for a Type II slurry can be implemented.

It would be ideal if the developers were prouder of the work done and agreed to the overlay that Mr. Robinson had already stated in his offer, or at least ran the Type II slurry.

However, we as citizens must demand more from our district representatives, developers and contractors. This could have been prevented and we could have achieved better results. Our employees, planners and district officers have a responsibility to serve the communities. This fiasco will now cost more to maintain and more to repair over the years. At some point we have to demand better.

Thank you for sharing a few moments with me. Please send announcements or organizational information to Johnsonlanejournal@outlook.com.

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