By Barbara Wood
Special to the Almanac
It's been more than a decade since residents of Old La Honda road repeatedly lobbied the town of Woodside to do something about the dangerous condition of their steep and winding road.
Since acknowledging the problems, the town has annually put a good chunk of its road budget into repairs and maintenance of Old La Honda Road. On March 12, however, the residents were back, this time because the town's efforts have apparently made enough difference in the condition of Old La Honda that it is no longer a top priority for road funds.
The road budget the council was asked to approve allocated $42,750 for Old La Honda Road projects, with even more money going to projects on Jefferson Avenue ($180,158), Kings Mountain ($86,026), Woodside Drive ($57,934) and Skyline area roads ($58,702).
More than two dozen Old La Honda Road residents showed up at the council meeting asking for the $70,000 they've been used to getting each year.
But council members, after hearing from Deputy Town Manager Paul Nagengast that other town roads needed to be fixed now before completely breaking down and requiring very expensive repairs, voted unanimously to leave the allocations as proposed.
The town will change the type of work it does on Old La Honda this year, and devote most of the money to working on the swales that provide drainage on the roadsides.
"Our problem is, how do we allocate a finite amount of money each year?" said Councilman Ron Romines. "If we increase the allotment (for Old La Honda) that means we take money away from some other road, some other project."
Mary Zvirblis, a 20-year resident of Old La Honda, brought the council and town employees the traditional prop of her group, Rocky Road candy bars, and a plea. "Please finish the Old La Honda Road project before moving on," she said, referring to a study she said the town did in the mid-1990s which concluded the road needed nearly a million dollars in work.
"We were told we will chip away at this program over time. Well, finish the program please," she said.
Old La Honda area resident Jeff Lee said that with the improvements in road conditions, even more people use it as a shortcut back and forth from Skyline Boulevard, especially bicyclists. "It's a safety issue," he said.
Another major component of the $1.59-million road program for the 2013-14 fiscal year is $50,000 budgeted for a study of the condition of the town's aging storm-drain system. Mr. Nagengast also asked the town to budget $100,000 for repairs to the storm drains annually for at least the next five years once the study has been completed.
The roads program also includes $20,000 to study the condition of the town's aging bridges on Kings Mountain, Mountain Home and Portola roads to see if repairs or changes can be made to stretch the lives of the bridges without replacing them.