Marin, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Solano are among nearly all California counties seeking federal and state reimbursement for repairs this season that could run $600 million–$1 billion statewide.

On Jan. 23 and March 7, Gov. Brown issued emergency declarations because of the January and February storm work, particularly for the Oroville Dam.


This season flooding on state Highway 37, a heavily traveled route east of the Novato interchange with U.S. Highway 101, closed it for 17 days. Besides the Caltrans bill for that work and Highway 1 fixes still needed along the Marin coast, the tally for work by county agencies is estimated to be $8.75 million, according to a Department of Public Works report on the March 14 Board of Supervisors agenda.

The Highway 37 flooding happened from a confluence of factors. It is in an area where four waterways converge to flow into San Pablo Bay, and there’s a bottleneck for Novato Creek as it runs under the roadway. A system of levees managed by public agencies and private landowners is designed to let water flow into surrounding fields.

“Because the whole watershed is heavily saturated, things are not draining out,” said Julian Kaelon, a department spokesman. “It’s been one storm after another.”

Holes in levees along property owned by the Leveroni family combined with the saturated soil to flood the highway. “Caltrans did a great job of coming in and when we finally had a couple of dry days, putting in barriers and putting in some ballast,” said Judy Arnold, chairwoman of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. Her Fifth District includes that area.

“It isn’t going to be the final fix, but it should help a lot if we have flooding,” Arnold said. “If king tides come in, we’re not so sure, because of what else has to be done.”

She has been in talks with the family on levee repairs and has been working for years with colleagues in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties on long-term environmental and traffic solutions for Highway 37. One problem is the roadway has sections below sea level, Arnold said.


The rough estimate for county of Napa storm-related road has risen to $25 million–$30 million, but that could change as the impact of the January and February storms is fully assessed, according to county spokeswoman Kristi Jourdan. That includes materials and work time by various departments.

“At this point, all roads are accessible,” she said.

Among the slippages of a lane down a hillside or a slide of mud and rocks across a roadway was the dramatic spill of large boulders and dirt at the intersection of Pratt Avenue and the heavily traveled east Napa Valley thoroughfare Silverado Trail on Jan. 9, Jourdan said.

It took 10 days to reopen Silverado, but Pratt remained closed into last week, she said. County workers drilled 15-foot-deep holes in the bike lane and drove in metal beams to hold concrete K-rail barriers acting as a catchwall against the hillside.

Another dramatic slide was on Redwood Road just west of Napa that closed the significant rural track for about a week in early February. An estimated 3,000–5,000 cubic yards of dirt and timber debris slid 150–250 yards down a slope to cover the road, Jourdan said.

“It’s been a very unique season for our road workers,” she said of the county’s 25-person team responsible for 450 miles of county-maintained roads. One delivered a baby while in the field, and another received county commendation for saving a child and mother from being washed away after she turned her vehicle onto a swollen roadway.

“Hopefully, we’ll see a reprieve from this at some point,” Jourdan said.

The Napa County Board of Supervisors recently set aside $500,000–$1 million for design and engineering of fixes for storm damage.


In Sonoma County, damage to roads from winter storms has been estimated at $16.4 million so far, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. That includes materials, overtime for county workers and contractor costs.

About $8 million — can be covered by state or federal aid, the county told the publication. The rest would have to be made up with local funds.

The county is considering use of an operating reserve of about $5 million for road repairs.

That would be beyond the $65 million-plus the county has pledged to repave 300 miles of local roads over five years through 2017. There were still 194 miles to go.


Damage to the 1,014 miles of roads and 137 bridges maintained by the county of Mendocino is estimated to be about $7 million, according to Howard Dashiell, director of the county Department of Transportation.

“For some reason, the storms tracked south and north of us,” he said. “Quite a bit worse was the New Year’s Eve event of 2005–2006.”

Several county roads are only for only one late and some not for big trucks. Those include Mallard Street between Hawk Road and Poppy Drive, Miner Hole Road near Highway 1, Laytonville-Dos Rios Road at milepost 4.19 and Orr Springs Road about 5 miles west of Ukiah.

Caltrans is estimating $38.4 million in damage to state-run roads in Mendocino County and $6.3 million for Lake County roads, according to spokesman Phil Frisbie Jr.

Jeff Quackenbush (jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256) covers construction, commercial real estate and wine. This story includes Sonoma County reporting from Derek Moore of The Press Democrat.