Almanac

News - September 25, 2013

New and sturdy buttress for Ramona Road in Los Trancos Woods

by Dave Boyce

A new and massive retaining wall of sturdy wooden and steel beams topped by concrete now rests alongside the 200 block of Ramona Road in Los Trancos Woods. In recognition of the protection the wall now gives to the road during the winter rains, the community celebrated Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Pony Tracks Ranch on Old Spanish Trail.

Supervisor Don Horsley, engineers and representatives from the Los Trancos Woods and Vista Verde community were gathered there for a ribbon-cutting. Ramona Road is a link to essential outside services for this community within unincorporated San Mateo County.

The heavy rains in December 2012 reminded residents of a 1983 washout that closed Ramona Road for weeks, and forced residents to use narrow rural roads to get in and out of the community, said community residents Ruth and Gerry Nelson, who wrote a chronology on the project.

With the past in mind, community volunteers earlier this year organized a technical analysis of the land around 281 Ramona Road using $25,000 from the local Los Trancos County Water District.

With the analysis complete, the county Department of Public Works took immediate preventive measures and mapped out a plan to fix the problem, residents said. Supervisor Don Horsley, who represents the community on the Board of Supervisors, helped arrange a declaration of emergency, which put the project on a fast track.

The county began work on the wall in July and spent between $200,000 and $250,000, resident Ken Kormanak told the Almanac.

The retaining wall, which includes 15 50-foot steel I-beams sunk vertically into the ground, runs 87 linear feet along the side of the road and is 21 feet high, Mr. Kormanak said. Two hundred fifty bolts hold the wooden beams of the wall in place.

Comments

Posted by Ken Kormanak, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:55 am

This Almanac article reporting on the Ramona Road repair in the Los Trancos/Vista Verde area left out some important information about how the work was funded and initiated. In 2011, the Los Trancos County Water District (LTCWD) commissioned a geotechnical survey to study the soil conditions under the road and recommend repair solutions. However, over the following two years, the Water District's efforts to engage the San Mateo County Department of Public Works (DPW) in fixing the road to their recommendations resulted in no action.

Due to the severe rains at the end of December 2012, soil erosion put the edge of Ramona Road in peril, along with portions of Alpine Road. At a community association meeting, a group of concerned local residents formed an ad hoc committee, named "Save Alpine and Ramona Road" (SARR) to initiate action by the DPW in early January 2013. Local engineering experts in the community, Ross Edwards and Mario Wijtman, provided DPW with the technical reasons for the type of structure that would ensure a long-term solution. Funding, however, was the main issue. SARR worked with Supervisor Don Horsley, his Chief of Staff, John Maltbie, and Jim Porter, Director of Public Works, who approved the repair recommendation to receive emergency funding. Their action put the project on a fast track to identify a contractor to provide a design-build solution. Work began July 1 and twelve weeks later a new retaining wall was in place, preserving the utilities under the roadbed and providing a safe road for the community.

I believe it is important to recognize the efforts of SARR and the community volunteers who got the repair work completed. Your readers should understand the full story of how this long-standing safety issue was resolved through the efforts of a wide number of citizens and agencies working together.


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