The Cambrian

County to begin improvements on dangerous Burton Drive walkway in Cambria

Finally, the county’s list of upcoming road repairs includes a dangerous yet frequently-used informal pathway area that lies between Burton Drive and the steep slope toward the Village Lane/Cambria Hardware area.

Phil Acosta, county right-of-way agent, told Cambria Community Services District directors May 9 that, if everything goes as hoped, a complex Public Works project to fix the unstable area could begin as soon as this summer.

The period of active construction beside one of Cambria’s busiest sections of roadway is expected to take six months or less, depending on weather and other factors. However, the project could face some delays, so the county is seeking a two-year temporary construction easement and a permanent easement for the pathway and stabilizing structure.

For decades, many walkers from Lodge Hill, Santa Lucia Middle School and the Cambria Pines Lodge have used the shoulder area of Burton Drive’s downhill lane leading to the bridge as their access to and from Village Lane, East Village and other areas of Cambria’s business district.

“There’s reason to get it done as soon as possible,” CSD Board President David Pierson said. “It’s a real safety consideration for those people.”

The unsafe conditions have been discussed repeatedly through the years, including at meetings of the North Coast Advisory Council and CCSD board. The route has been patched before, but never fixed. Mother Nature and gravity have conspired to continually erode the bluff, narrowing the pathway and, in some spots, obliterating it completely.

The project will reestablish the pedestrian path, the surface of which would be deconstructed granite, Acosta said. In a letter to Assistant General Manager Monique Madrid, he said the path way is to be 6 feet wide, and the surface is to be 12 inches thick. The improvements will also include reconstruction and reinforcement of the existing slope at the CSD parcel to the fog line along Burton Drive, protected by erosion control neeting and reseeding, county project manager Rachel Naccarati said.

She said the county anticipated beginning construction in November and that the estimated cost for the project is $310,000.

After some discussion that produced unanswered questions, especially about access and traffic restrictions during construction, the CSD directors voted unanimously to delay their decision until Thursday, May 23. That’s when they will again consider approving a right-of-way agreement, perpetual drainage and slope easement and temporary, two-year construction easement for the project. The district’s property there includes a 10-inch waterline and a pump station.

The county will pay the district $2,300 for property interests being acquired, including the permanent and temporary easements. Construction will impact traffic on the busy roadway, he said, “but there are no plans to completely close Burton Drive.”

Traffic will be reduced to one lane at times, and that lane could be narrowed. According to Acosta, the contractor also could seek another temporary construction easement elsewhere and an alternative route for pedestrians during the construction.

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