Improvements To Mt. Provo Road
I am excited to announce Mt. Provo Road is drivable just in time for fire season. Mt. Provo Rd is a primary fire-evacuation road for Ponderosa Hills and has been impassable for several years due to extremely deep ruts.
Two years ago, while campaigning to be your District Three Supervisor, I drove Mt. Provo road to knock on doors in a four-wheel-drive vehicle and several times I thought I would not make it. “What would happen if a fire tore through Ponderosa Hills?” a resident on the road asked me. Everyone would get stuck and people might die. I realized fixing this road would be one of the most important jobs I should get done while in office. The Paradise Fire hit later that fall confirming my fears of losing a community like Ponderosa Hills. Mt. Provo Rd is a challenging situation because it is a United States Forest Service (USFS) road that runs through Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private land, it is technically outside of Tuolumne County road maintenance jurisdiction and as we discovered last year, Frontier Communications had a utility line buried right down the middle of the road. The USFS road budget has been gutted over the years and most of their budget goes towards fire suppression leaving no money to fix such roads. Unacceptable.
Over a year ago, while at a Board of Supervisors meeting, Chief Josh White heard me push for fixing this road. He could have looked the other way as it is not CAL FIRE’s responsibility. Instead, he saw a need and jumped in to help by assigning Division Chief Loren Monsen and Forester Roger Petersen of CAL FIRE. The road would have been repaired last fall, however, discovery of the Frontier Communications utility line halted the project.
After raising the issue with Greg Bordelon at Frontier, they recognized the need to address the situation for the safety of the community. After coordination and teamwork with Beth Martinez and the USFS team, Frontier moved the line at their cost which allowed for future roadwork without the fear of damaging the utility line. This week, CAL FIRE filled in the deep ruts and graded the road. Doug Benton of SMCI volunteered a water tender with water access provided by Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) so the road bed could be compacted.
This project was at zero cost to local taxpayers. Frontier absorbed the huge expense of moving the line and SMCI paid out of pocket for their employees to work on this project for your safety. How can we ever thank them?
Unfortunately the project is not over. We will lose this road next winter if we don’t get rock applied. We need about a mile of road base rock, 3 to 4 inches deep. I will continue to lobby at the National level for increased revenues specific to USFS road maintenance. I will look for our staff and fire safe councils to apply for any grants which could be utilized to maintain fire-evacuation roads.
Call to action:
I am asking the Ponderosa Hills community and really anyone in this community to be creative and help provide solutions. Money and resources are needed to permanently fix this road. I know we are all sick of paying taxes and not seeing the results on our local roads. We need to face the music. We live in California where many of our basic safety needs are being neglected. If we want fire-safe communities, we need to make it happen and not wait for big Government to fix all our problems.
Again, thank you to CAL FIRE, USFS, Frontier Communications, SMCI, and TUD for making this happen and keeping this community safe.